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Artificial intelligence in space

AI in developing space technologies

Artificial intelligence or AI has become an important force or a tool that drives the evolution of technologies that improve human life and helps unlock the secrets of the universe beyond the influence of our planet. In simple words, AI is something that enables a computer/ robot to mimic human intelligence and it is revolutionizing the way we explore and utilize space, enhancing everything from spacecraft navigation and autonomous decision-making to data analysis and mission planning. This article explores the profound impact of AI in the development of space related technologies.

Mission planning and design

Space mission planning and payload, instrument designs rely on the gathered previous mission data. However, access to all the historic mission data is only provided to individuals with a higher authority access at the space agency which requires a lot of paper works and approvals. But recently NASA came up with a solution and they named it as the “Data Acquisition Processing and Handling Network Environment” (DAPHNE) system. Daphne is an AI assistant which can access millions of previous mission data including the most restricted ones and provide the scientists an insight about their mission without the need of a higher authority access or security clearance. It can also compute and analyze countless input variables to determine the most efficient routes and schedules for missions, which is crucial for long-duration missions or missions with multiple objectives.


Manufacturing processes usually involves complex tasks that requires high precision and attention to detail when it comes to space related applications. The use of AI in spacecraft manufacturing not only accelerates production but also increases precision and reliability. Ai assistants like collaborative bots (cobots) interacts with the engineers and help them to make the right decisions, reduce the overall assembly process time and also provide insights about the final product which ensures that the spacecrafts are built to the highest standards.

Data processing

Space missions generate vast amounts of data, from images and telemetry to instrument readings. AI algorithms are capable in sifting through this data, identifying patterns, and extracting meaningful insights. An example is the estimation of planetary wind speed which requires a combination of the satellite imagery and meteorological data. AI tools can rapidly analyze these large datasets and help scientists in understanding these planetary phenomena and easily uncover its secrets. This capability is also valuable in missions to study distant galaxies, black holes, and exoplanets.


Navigation & guidance systems

One of the critical applications of AI in space technology is autonomous navigation. Spacecraft traveling vast distances through the cosmos must constantly adjust their trajectories to avoid collisions with celestial bodies and maximize their fuel efficiency. Advanced AI systems can process data in real-time and autonomously adjust a spacecraft's course. This not only reduces the need for constant human intervention from the ground station but also allows for more precise and efficient missions.


Astronaut health monitoring

Astronauts in space face a range of health issues like bone density loss, cardiovascular issues etc. The AI systems can continuously monitor physiological data and provide an insight into the astronaut’s health condition including sleep patterns. This allows early detection of health issues and timely intervention which reduces the need for immediate communication with ground mission control, ultimately safeguard the safety of the astronauts on long-duration missions.

In summary, AI is a tool that represents a transformative shift in how we explore and understand our cosmos and its secrets. One day AI will play an even more significant role in the future that pushes the boundaries of space and bring us closer to answering some of humanity’s most profound questions.

Written by Arun Sreeraj

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