How NASA uses AI!
2 min read

How NASA uses AI!

AI and Space are two of my greatest passions. In this week's video I looked at how NASA uses AI in the field of Planetary Science and Space Communications.

šŸ—£ Transcript of the Video

What could be cooler than robots in space?

Today we'll talk about AI and Space, two of my favourite passions. But more specifically we'll discuss how NASA uses AI in space. So this will be part one of the video and we'll talk about AI exploration in two categories: Planetary Science and Space Communication.

So Let's talk about AI application in planetary science. In order to learn more about Mars, NASA scientists often look at surface changes as a result of avalanches, sandstorms and meteorite strikes. One such surface change is the creation of craters. These scientists have previously discovered thousand new craters by manually inspecting images from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. This spacecraft was orbiting Mars for around 14 years. So that's a lot of images with potential craters in them but the one problem is that it takes scientists up to 40 minutes just to inspect one image for any craters.

So to speed up the process JPL engineers made use of AI. They built a crater classifier. So they fed this classifier 6800 images with and without craters. After the training, the algorithm was then tasked with finding craters in 112 000 images and it took only 5 seconds per image as opposed to 40 minutes by a human being and that's an improvement of 480 folds.

In this scenario it's not hard to see how AI has effectively levelled up our ability to automate the manual task. The next category of AI application is Space Communication. Currently communication with satellites around earth is done using human controlled radios at predetermined frequencies. In US, the federal communication commission allocates different sections of the electromagnetic spectrum to various users. These users can include satellite radio, mobile networks bluetooth and wi-fi devices.

As the spectrum is divided up into a limited section there's a limit to how many channels you can have. NASA has been looking at a new type of radio called cognitive radio.

It uses AI to discover in real time under-utilised frequencies to use until the primary user is back. This involves an intelligent switching of channels. Another advantage of cognitive radio is that it can work around severe space weather. For example, an excessive solar flare can disrupt transmission on certain frequencies so the cognitive radio will be able to switch in real time from a faulty frequency to one that is functional. So these are two of many categories where NASA is using AI. In future parts I'll talk more about AI applications in the field of navigation, attitude control and determination and outer space exploration. If you enjoyed the video don't forget to like and subscribe and I'll see you next week.