Prospective

AI helping NASA to penetrate the mysteries of outer space

  • 04 Sep
    2017
  • 2 min

Artificial intelligence is enabling NASA to push back the boundaries of human knowledge of what is happening in space.


In the United States, which has just experienced its first total eclipse of the sun for 26 years, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is working closely with the Tech world to increase human understanding of this type of phenomenon and of space in general. The NASA Frontier Development Lab, an AI research & development accelerator launched just over a year ago in conjunction with the SETI Institute, brings together astronomy experts and machine learning specialists for a 2-month programme. Examples of the latest projects run as part of the programme were unveiled recently.

One project is designed to ensure rapid detection of debris scattered through space by the passage of comets and then apply machine learning algorithms to identify any meteors – even very distant ones – that are likely to be on a collision course with the Earth. Using the massive volumes of data collected, the Frontier Development Lab team, assisted by artificial intelligence, has been able to improve the resolution of satellite maps. In one minute, the AI system can carry out a task that would take a human expert two to three hours to complete. Moreover, their results agreed with human image classification about 98% of the time, i.e. about five times the accuracy of previous image analysis systems. Such AI-based advances are likely to assist, and speed up, the conquest of space.

Written by Sophia Qadiri