NASA to use AI in space communications

By Jonathan Dyble
NASA has revealed that it will be exploring the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in spacecraft in the attempt of improving communications between its...

NASA has revealed that it will be exploring the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in spacecraft in the attempt of improving communications between its aircraft and Earth.

Currently, space aircraft rely upon human-controlled radio. However, the infusion of AI and cognitive radio into these networks could improve communications, according to researchers at NASA.

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“Modern space communications systems use complex software to support science and exploration missions,” said Janette C. Briones, principal investigator in the cognitive communication project at NASA’s Glenn Research Centre in Cleveland, Ohio. “By applying artificial intelligence and machine learning, satellites control these systems seamlessly, making real-time decisions without awaiting instruction.”

Signal interference is a common problem in space, with the likes of space weather, electromagnetic radiation and other celestial bodies all causing congestion on networks. However, cognitive radio could enhance the efficiency of these communications networks as it can be programmed to use the best wireless channels available to avoid such interference.

“The recent development of cognitive technologies is a new thrust in the architecture of communications systems,” Briones continues. “We envision these technologies will make our communications networks more efficient and resilient for missions exploring the depths of space.”

“By integrating artificial intelligence and cognitive radios into our networks, we will increase the efficiency, autonomy and reliability of space communications systems.”

Tests will be conducted using the Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN) testbed aboard the International Space Station, providing engineers with the necessary tools to test cognitive radio in a simulated space environment.


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