AI in Space | #AskAbby | Season 2 | Episode 12 | The Mars Generation

Season 2, Episode 12 of The #AskAbby Space and Science Show

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What is artificial intelligence and how can it be used in space?

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In the 12th episode of Season 2 of #AskAbby, please join aspiring astronaut Abigail Harrison, aka Astronaut Abby, as she answers the question “What is artificial intelligence and how can it be used in space?” Find out why and how artificial intelligence could be useful to space travel and how big space agencies like SpaceX, Airbus, and NASA are using it right now!

Includes answers to questions including: What is the definition of artificial intelligence? What are recent developments in space in AI? What is AEGIS? How does the Mars Curiosity Rover zap rocks with a 93% accuracy? What is CIMON and how could it help astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS)? Why are human astronauts still valuable to send to space? Why are engineers and scientists so obsessed with acronyms? And most importantly…will a robot with artificial intelligence turn into deadly HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey?! (*gasp*)

Tune in on Tuesdays for new releases of The #AskAbby Space and Science Show! To submit a question to #AskAbby go to ►

Transcription of A.I. IN SPACE

Siri, how far is it to the sun?

1.01 Astronomical Units

How many moons does Mars have?

I found Phobos and Deimos

Siri, what are the 3 laws of Robotics?

I forget the first three, but there’s a fourth. A smart machine shall first consider which is more worth its while: to perform the given task or instead, to figure some way out of it.

Wait, what?

Can we really trust artificial intelligence, especially in something as difficult as space exploration?

Well, today, we’re going to go ahead and talk about it. That’s today’s topic for Ask Abby: Artificial Intelligence.

*Show Intro*

Hi there. I’m Astronaut Abby, an aspiring astronaut with the goal to be the first person to walk on Mars! Welcome to Ask Abby where I answer questions about space and science submitted by you, the viewers!

Today we’re answering the question “How can Artificial Intelligence be implemented to help with space exploration?”

This is a great question because it seems like everyone is wondering about the capabilities of Artificial Intelligence.

That’s because artificial intelligence has incredible potential to impact space travel…and not by becoming murderous.

That’s right, I’m lookin’ at you HAL.

But before we get started, what even is Artificial Intelligence?

Well, the definition according to the English Oxford Living Dictionary is: “The theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages.”

There’s a ton of different definitions, but they all include imitation of human behavior, the ability to adapt to change, and to learn.

So how does A.I. actually help with space travel? Well, one prominent and recent example is back in 2016, when NASA gave the Mars Curiosity Rover an A.I. program called AEGIS. AEGIS stands for Autonomous Exploration for Gathering Increased Science.

I know, again with the acronyms. C’mon LUMCH, guys, LUMCH. (Let’s. Use. More. Creativity. Here.)

But anyways, AEGIS has given Curiosity the ability to detect and sample rocks basically on its own. It uses photo recognition to learn what types of rocks and soils NASA wants to study and it has a 93% accuracy rate. And while that level of autonomy does make Curiosity rock, it could be pretty intimidating if it were to one day go rogue.

So besides zapping rocks, what’s so useful about A.I. in space?

Well recently, the first robot equipped with artificial intelligence was launched into space, and it helps astronauts by collaborating with them on their daily tasks.

Launched in late June 2018 by a SpaceX rocket to the International Space Station, CIMON was developed by the European space agency Airbus and stands for Crew Interactive Mobile Companion. If an astronaut needs help with an experiment or a complex procedure, they can ask CIMON and get highly detailed answers and information.

Kind of like Siri here on Earth except . . . better.

So in everything from the physical chores of exploring other planets to collecting data to providing astronauts with information, A.I. definitely has the potential to help humans with space exploration.

Another future application for A.I. would be that we could send an A.I. to Mars ahead of our human travelers, and have it set up all of their life support systems and habitats. This would drastically decrease the risk factor and the cost of human Mars missions.

There’s a lot of potential in the future for artificial intelligence to help us explore extremely hostile environments, such as the moons of Galilean planets which could have watery oceans on them. These situations are very difficult for humans because we’re a lot more fragile.

So after hearing all of this great stuff about how artificial intelligence could help us with space exploration, you might start to wonder why send humans to space at all?

Well, as of yet, artificial intelligence doesn’t have the creativity, problem-solving and ability to react that humans do. And don’t forget our fancy shmancy opposable thumbs! But really, the possibilities for artificial intelligence in our future are limitless, as long as we avoid an A.I apocalypse, that is… Which, according to Elon Musk, is apparently pretty scary.

Well, that’s all the time we have today for #AskAbby. Thank you so much for joining me for The Mars Generation Space and Science Show.

And as always, if you have a question you’d like to ask and potentially see answered here, you can go ahead and submit to me on Twitter using the hashtag #AskAbby, or at which is linked below.

And make sure that if you enjoyed this segment to go ahead and click the thumbs up button to give us a “like,” and subscribe so that you don’t miss our next great episode.

Until next time, farewell fellow travelers of spaceship Earth!

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