According to reports, NASA engineers are creating a ChatGPT-style chatbot that could enable astronauts to communicate with their spaceship.
The technology driven by artificial intelligence (AI) will allow mission controllers to communicate with autonomous vehicles exploring faraway planets and moons.
The engineer designing the technology is aiming for the early version of the AI to be placed aboard Lunar Gateway, a projected interplanetary space station as part of the Artemis program in November 2024.
“The idea is to get to a point where we have conversational interactions with space vehicles, and they [are] also talking back to us on alerts, interesting findings they see in the solar system and beyond,” Dr. Larissa Suzuki, a visiting researcher at Nasa said. “It’s really not like science fiction anymore.”
The Working of the AI System Explained
As illustrated during the next-generation space communication at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) in London, the system uses an interplanetary communications network with AI to detect and fix glitches and inefficiencies.
“It then alerts mission operators that there is a likelihood that package transmissions from space vehicle X will be lost or will fail delivery,” said Suzuki a technical director at Google alongside her NASA role
This eliminates the need to send engineers to space when a space vehicle goes offline or its software breaks.
The system also features a natural language interface for astronauts and mission control to communicate.
These conversations enable advice on space experiments and complex maneuvers, eliminating the need for cumbersome technical manuals.
The next mission for Suzuki is the deployment of machine learning in space to allow the running of vast amounts of data where it’s impossible through supercomputers.
She is exploring the use of federated learning, which enables robotic rovers to share knowledge on distant planets, enabling them to learn without transmitting vast amounts of data back to Earth.
“The spacecraft do collaborative updates based on what’s seen by other spacecraft,” she said. “It’s a technique to do distributed learning – to learn in a collaborative way without … bringing all that data to the ground.”
- Hannah Devlin, ‘‘It’s not like science fiction any more’: Nasa aiming to make spaceships talk’, The Guardian, 24 June 2023, https://www.theguardian.com/science/2023/jun/24/nasa-spaceships-talk-chatgpt-larissa-suzuki