TECH
05/06/2015 16:59 BST | Updated 05/06/2015 17:59 BST

Space And Earth Shake Hands For The First Time As NASA ESA Robotics Test Joysticks

Two guys playing with joysticks have made it possible for earth and space to shake hands for the first time.

NASA astronaut Terry Virts aboard the International Space Station was able to control a joystick on earth, manned by ESA telerobotics specialist André Schiele in the Netherlands.

Both joysticks were twin copies of each other allowing both Virts and Schiele to feel when the other was pushing or pulling.

robot handshake

The joystick handshake means that astronauts orbiting a planet will be able to use a reliable connection to remotely control objects on the planet's surface.

In order to have successful communication the signal from Virts' joystick had to travel from the International Space Station to a satellite 22,000 miles above the earth, through Houston mission control and then to the ESA technical centre in the Netherlands.

The process took all of 0.8 seconds both ways, a significantly shorter time compared to the 12 minutes it takes for a command from Earth to Rover Mars to be processed.

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The next step is to find out if astronauts will be able to use a similar channel of communication to detect the stiffness of objects remotely.

ESA say this will "be important for more advanced remote robotic tasks in the future."

Until then, joystick high five anyone?