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Case Studies



Oceaneering Multipurpose Micro-Manipulator, utilizing the Omni-Wrist I



Mark Gittleman, General Manager of Oceaneering Space Systems with Mark Rosheim President of Ross-Hime Designs, Inc.

Case Study: The Oceaneering Multi-Purpose Micro Manipulator

In 1997 Oceanering Space Systems,, a Division of Oceaneering International, Inc. contacted Ross-Hime Designs, Inc. having learned of the Omni-Wrist I from NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Led by Mark Gittleman, General Manager of Oceaneering - negotiated a patent license with Ross-Hime Designs CEO David Jasper in March of 1998.

Oceaneering went on to develop the Oceaneering Multipurpose Micro-Manipulator (OM3). With it's compact size and precise movement, OM3TM is ideal for conducting delicate science tasks not previously possible.


  • Manipulate science samples with unmatched precision
  • Perform automated or manual science tasks/experiments remotely
  • Save time on repetitive tasks
  • Work in confined spaces
  • Isolate operator from dangerous materials
  • Actuators isolated from the arm
  • Extreme flexibility


  • Precise movement with 50Ám positioning resolution
  • Large hemispherical work volume of 1000 in
  • Small arm size
  • 1.5 lb. payload capacity
  • Isolated actuators

The OM3 has been developed by Oceaneering for the NASA Johnson Space Center as a critical component of theCrystal Preparation Prime Item (CPPI) The CPPI is one of the first true telescience facilities. It is a key sub-system of the X-Ray Crystallography Facility (XCF) that will be flown on the International Space Station. The XCF will grow, prepare, freeze, store, and x-ray protein crystals in space. The CPPI, which was developed entirely in-house by OSS, uses robotics and automation to prepare, freeze, and store the protein crystals. The CPPI removes crystals, along with a small amount of mother liquor (the liquid used to grow crystals) from their growth cells. It then isolates candidate crystals and, at the command of a scientist on the ground, captures and processes them, if necessary flash freezing the crystals to -183║ C. All of this is performed in a tightly controlled thermal environment.

Mapping the structure of protein crystals helps researchers develop highly effective drugs that interact only with the virus- or disease-causing proteins, therefore producing only minimal side effects. Protein crystals grow best in space, an environment where the effect of gravity is minimized. Right now, all protein crystals that are grown in space have to take the bumpy ride home on the Space Shuttle. The vibrations associated with landing the Shuttle can damage some sensitive crystals. Other crystals start to decay before they can be x-rayed and some take longer to develop than the typical 10-14 days of a Space Shuttle flight.

The Oceaneering Multi-Purpose Micro Manipulator (OM3™) performs many of the tasks that would otherwise require an astronaut. Scientists on the ground interact with the experiment in space by selecting the crystals they want to x-ray. Automation and remote control does the rest.