This Feb 2013 promo video for the Kibo Robot Project really builds the excitement for having a 13.4 inch tall robot astronaut in space… just in case that didn’t already sound exciting. (Turn on the translated captions!)
On August 9, 2013, an Astro Boy-inspired, talking robot named Kirobo — a mix of Kibo, "hope" in Japanese, and robot — will arrive at the International Space Station on a Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) supply ship.
Kirobo will work directly with JAXA engineer, astronaut, and human Koichi Wakata, who will take command of the ISS in November. The robot’s presence will also explore “how machines can lend emotional support to people isolated over long periods.” Among other functions, it is built with voice-, face-, and emotion- recognition technologies.
From PC Mag:
Of course, it’s not as easy as it sounds for a robot to become an astronaut. Researchers had to subject Kirobo to a number of different tests to determine whether the robot would be suitable for its weightless mission, including thermal analysis testing, electromagnetic compatibility testing, and a test to determine whether the general background noise on board the Internal Space Station might otherwise interfere with the robot’s voice-recognition capabilities.
Tested and approved, Kirobo left Earth on a rocket that took off from Tanegashima Space Center on August 3rd.
There are more robot videos and astronaut videos in the archives.
On its way to Mercury in August, 2005, eight years ago, Messenger Spacecraft took 358 images with its wide-angle camera over 24 hours, one Earth rotation. The images were brought together in this 13 second time lapse video. From APODVideos:
The spacecraft was 40,761 miles (65,598 kilometers) above South America when the camera started rolling on Aug. 2. It was 270,847 miles (435,885 kilometers) away from Earth - farther than the Moon’s orbit - when it snapped the last image on Aug. 3.
Farther than the Moon’s orbit. Lit beautifully in the darkness of space, this is what Earth looks like as you leave it.
You can also see Mercury spin. The smallest of our eight planets and the one closest to the Sun, Mercury is being well-documented by Messenger. After two years in orbit, it finished imaging 100% of the planet in early 2013.
Related watching: Mars spinning, and more planets.