For decades, artificial intelligence (AI) has been raising our standard of living on Earth. But what about outside our planet's boundaries? How can artificial intelligence help space missions and exploration? AI is a critical component for space flights and space exploration, assisting astronauts and ground-based operations.
It aids in the performance of tasks that people would otherwise be unable to undertake in space, such as cosmic event analysis, system control, star and black hole tracking, and more.
Many firms, including NASA, Google, and the European Space Agency (ESA), are already employing artificial intelligence (AI) to discover new celestial objects and improve humans' life in space.
Applications of artificial intelligence in space exploration
Rovers that operate independently
One of the most important AI applications is NASA's autonomous rovers. These rovers wander planet surfaces, currently Mars, and must make decisions and avoid obstacles while calculating the optimum routes without the approval of mission control. Some of the most significant discoveries on Mars have been made by autonomous rovers.
Robots and assistants
Sentiment analysis (also known as emotion AI or opinion mining) is a subfield of neural language processing (NLP) that is driving scientists' efforts to develop intelligence-based assistants that will aid astronauts on future voyages to the Moon, Mars, and beyond. Sentiment analysis extracts and recognises opinions from text data such as reviews, forums, social media, and other sources.
System of intelligence navigation
Google Maps uses navigation systems like GPS to map out our world, but we don't have a corresponding tool for extraterrestrial objects at the moment. Scientists must be inventive in the absence of navigation satellites orbiting Mars or the Moon. In 2018, a NASA team of researchers collaborated with Intel to build an intelligent navigation system. This technology uses artificial intelligence to explore planets, and the model was trained on millions of pictures from various missions to produce a virtual Moon map.
Data processing through satellite
Satellites generate vast amounts of data; Maxar Technologies, a Colorado-based space technology company, has more than 110 petabytes of image data, with over 80 terabytes added every day. AI algorithms aid in the efficient processing of this data. Machine learning algorithms can analyze changes in millions of photos in real time. By using AI to automate these procedures, satellites can capture photographs on their own when sensors detect specific signals.
Mission planning and execution
AI can aid with autonomous space mission operations. AIKO, an Italian start-up, created MIRAGE, a software library that enables operations in space missions. This is a part of the ESA's technology transfer programme. It enables the spacecraft to execute autonomous replanning and detect both internal and external events, allowing it to take appropriate action while ensuring that ground-based decision-making does not interfere with mission objectives.
The placement of space debris
According to the ESA, about 34,000 objects larger than four inches in diameter are threatening the existing space infrastructure. Satellites in low Earth orbit can be constructed to entirely disintegrate in a controlled manner, preventing space debris. There's also the risk of accidents with space debris, which researchers are actively attempting to avoid. This can be accomplished by using machine learning techniques to develop collision avoidance tactics, or by building machine learning models and communicating them to spacecraft in orbit to improve decision-making.