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NASA uses AI for Extraterrestrial Explorations

is exploring extraterrestrial* surfaces

NASA is developing technology that could enable autonomous navigation for future underwater dronesDrones are defined as unmanned aircrafts, they can be very small or rather large. Most drones cannot operate completely autonomous, but need human inputs. Moreover, there are a lot of laws in place which do not allow for private drones to fly out of sight. studying subsurface oceans on icy moons like Jupiter’s Europa. The agency is working on artificial intelligenceArtificial Intelligence knows many different definitions, but in general it can be defined as a machine completing complex tasks intelligently, meaning that it mirrors human intelligence and evolves with time. () that would allow submersibles to make their own decisions during exploration of extraterrestrial water worlds.

* extraterrestrial= outside the earth or its atmosphere

Finding the hidden water resources

Space exploration missions and astronomical observations in recent years have shown that our Solar System is abundant in water and could host at least several subsurface liquid oceans. The scientific community assumes water exists beneath the crust of Europa, as well as on other icy moons like Saturn’s Dione and Ganymede. Compelling evidence of hidden oceans on dwarf planets Ceres and Pluto has been also presented recently , proving many mysteries may lie deep underground these frigid celestial bodies, waiting to be uncovered by underwater robotic explorers.

Making smart decisions for months

NASA is aware of the emerging challenges it must face if it wants to successfully explore subsurface oceans on Europa and other icy worlds. Such underwater drones would focus on searching for microbial life in this harsh environment which strongly impedes nominal communications with mission control on Earth. Therefore, the key issue here is to develop a highly-autonomous submarine-like probe capable of making decisions on its own in real-time in order to continue exploration and research uninterrupted.  “Depending on the exact mission concept under consideration, autonomous underwater vehicles exploring ocean worlds will need to operate autonomously for days to months,” Steve Chien of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) . Chien further stated that “within this time frame they must manage their own resources, explore a largely unknown environment, including navigating to and from a single point of insertion which also serves as a communications link to the outside world.” […]

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