A team of microgravity researchers from Boise State will travel to the Johnson Space Center in Houston April 25-28 to test the prototype of a new, originally designed tool commissioned by NASA.
The Zero Operable Interplanetary Delivery Based Ergonomics Grabber, also known as ZOIDBERG, is designed to help astronauts collect three separate samples from asteroids without cross contaminating each sample.
The team will test the second version of ZOIDBERG, which improves on a model designed and tested by a Boise State crew during last year's Micro-G NExT program that challenges students to design professional space equipment.
ZOIDBERG 2.0 is more easily manipulated with one hand. It also features a new carousel design for rotating the collection boxes, instead of the original pulley-type system.
The tool will be tested in NASA's 6.2 million gallon pool that's part of the Neutral Buoyancy Lab, which provides a variety of training tools for astronauts to practice skills in a zero gravity or weightless environment similar to those encountered during space walks.
Team members Marina Autina, Zachary Chastaine, Jason Kuwada, Melissa Roberts, Evan Smith and team leader Christopher Ruby will represent the 13-member Boise State team in Houston.