AI systems are being utilized to tackle both minor and major issues on both Earth and beyond. Rapid advances in artificial intelligence hold great potential to increase space travel prospects in great strides. From offering personal support to astronauts to assisting us in better understanding the Sun, here are several ways AI can aid in space travel. We’re still a considerable distance from a real-life R2D2, but AI-powered virtual assistants that can help astronauts are presently being developed. One recently created AI assistant can detect threats and dangers in extended space trips by monitoring changes in the spacecraft’s environment, such as rising carbon dioxide levels, etc. These mechanical helpers can notify the crew of sensor discrepancies and other concerns that need to be inspected. Similarly, a comparable AI helper known as Cimon reached the International Space Station in 2019 and will “live” there for 3 years.
Cimon will be put to the test to see if it can lessen the stress of astronauts by completing duties that are assigned to it. If you will, consider it an interstellar butler. Furthermore, NASA is creating Robonaut, an AI robot that will operate alongside astronauts in the harsh conditions of space, and even undertake tasks that are perhaps too risky for humans to complete. Studying the Sun is a particularly difficult task. According to NASA, solar telescopes deteriorate fast owing to strong levels of energy, and a “never-ending shower of solar particles.” Several researchers are employing artificial intelligence to advance solar studies. AI can assist scientists to guarantee that the data they need to study the Sun is still correct and allows them to readjust their telescopes regularly to preserve data quality. As a result, NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory has been continuously monitoring the Sun since 2010, obtaining photographs spanning 10 wavelengths, every 12 seconds.
They use machine learning and artificial intelligence to evaluate how much deterioration is affecting the telescopes’ current photos, and how much calibration is required. This leads to a far better knowledge of our universe’s most crucial star. Exploring the great beyond necessitates preparing for a slew of unknowns. As astronauts go to places where few, if any, have gone before, they must rely on limited knowledge gained from previous research or space flights. This data may be sparse and difficult to get a hold of. AI is now being used by mission planning teams to make gathering knowledge together from previous excursions an easier process.
One AI helper is already in place to speed up the process of developing a preliminary mission concept. Daphne is also an intelligent helper used in the construction of Earth observation satellite systems. AI has an obvious potential to cut the number of man-hours necessary to construct a mission plan, as well as to swiftly gather knowledge and comments. Space, as it were, is running out of space. There are roughly 34,000 items larger than 10 cm in size that potentially endangers existing space infrastructures, triggering accidents or otherwise destabilizing space operations. Using “collision avoidance maneuver designs,” machine learning is assisting in avoiding potential collisions with space junk. The AI performs sophisticated calculations to determine the optimal course for a satellite or spacecraft to take in order to escape incoming debris. These models can assist in increasing safety as well as the maintaining of satellites in orbit for extended periods of time.
Satellites generate so much information that scientists and academics can’t possibly analyze all of it in real-time. AI can assist by creating reports that have a genuine influence on Earth’s life. For example, AI may utilize satellite data to predict heat retention of buildings or meteorological information to improve the ability to estimate wind speeds more accurately. AI can also assist scientists in determining when satellites need to be recalled for repair, detecting issues or malfunctioning, and forecasting overall performance. AI is expected to play a bigger role in the form of software rather than hardware, hence, unfortunately, a humanoid assistant from the movie Alien: Covenant is unlikely to be a reality any time soon.
With commercial space travel becoming a more common reality, companies are anticipated to employ AI systems for purposes such as customer service in outer space, passenger onboarding, etc. As with the development of most technologies, space exploration is also expected to play a catalyst in the advancement of artificial intelligence as well as machine learning. Space agencies around the world are increasingly taking assistance from private space firms for various tasks such as launches, spacecraft assembly & design, alternative fuel tech, space equipment, food technology, etc. As a consequence of private players collaborating with public agencies, there has been a significant increase in the rate of advancement of all facets of the space industry.