Naval Research Laboratory Teams Up for New Science TV Show

By Naval Research Laboratory

Satellites play a critical role in the Navy’s global presence by enabling communications, weather prediction, and navigation and precise timing. But, when a geosynchronous satellite breaks, there is no way to fix it.

Dr. Glen Henshaw (left), space roboticist at the Naval Research Laboratory, demonstrates how scientists simulate the frictionless environment of space during an interview with George Zaidan, host of the Pentagon Channel’s “Armed with Science” pilot program that airs Monday, March 10.   Henshaw and colleagues in NRL’s Spacecraft Engineering Department are developing robotic technology that can help repair, reposition, or update satellites. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Naval Research Laboratory)

Dr. Glen Henshaw (left), space roboticist at the Naval Research Laboratory, demonstrates how scientists simulate the frictionless environment of space during an interview with George Zaidan, host of the Pentagon Channel’s “Armed with Science” pilot program that airs Monday, March 10.
Henshaw and colleagues in NRL’s Spacecraft Engineering Department are developing robotic technology that can help repair, reposition, or update satellites. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Naval Research Laboratory)

The Naval Research Laboratory’s work to solve this challenge is front and center in a new science-focused TV show, “Armed with Science, today on the Pentagon Channel.

NRL teamed up with the Pentagon Channel and the Army Research Laboratory to create the show, which highlights the importance of science and technology to national defense and examines how Department of Defense laboratories are addressing the complex challenges facing the military.

“This is an exciting opportunity to showcase the scientists and engineers whose work will help our service members operate safer and more effectively,” Captain Anthony Ferrari, commanding officer of NRL, said.

The Pentagon Channel will air the pilot episode: Monday, March 10 at 9 a.m., 1 p.m., and 5 p.m. EST; and Thursday, March 13 at 10:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m., 6:30 p.m., and 10:30 p.m. EST. It will also be available online on the Department of Defense YouTube channel.

NRL’s Spacecraft Engineering Department is working to develop robots that can autonomously dock with a satellite and support humans in fixing problems and making basic upgrades.

In the episode, space roboticist Dr. Glen Henshaw demonstrates how scientists test how a robotic arm will reach out and touch a satellite in orbit. To simulate the frictionless environment of space, Henshaw floats a satellite model on NRL’s one-of-a-kind 75,000-pound gravity offset table, which he compares to an “upside-down air hockey table.”

The show also explores the Army’s super materials that operate across a spectrum of extreme environments to protect Soldiers against threats they haven’t seen yet. The materials that scientists and engineers design at an atomic scale will make up game-changing electronics, munitions and armor for the military of the future. The show wraps up with “super vision,” or enemy detection made easier and faster with infrared radiated light that allows Soldiers to see when there are zero visibility conditions.

The Pentagon Channel airs news, press conferences, congressional hearings, and a variety of shows for service members and their families. The channel is viewed in 30 million homes across the nation on cable and satellite providers, and is also available on every military installation around the world and online at http://www.pentagonchannel.mil.

“Armed with Science” is hosted by George Zaidan, a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who has worked on video projects with The Weather Channel, TED-Education, National Geographic, and Discover Magazine.

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Naval Research Laboratory Teams Up for New Science TV Show