The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) many probes and rovers offer scientists unique opportunities to study the solar system, but with limited flight and operation times, scheduling as many experiments and observations as possible can be difficult.
Stephen Smith, an artificial intelligence (AI) researcher at Carnegie Mellon University, notes it took "something like 300,000 man-hours" to schedule two weeks of observations during NASA's Jupiter fly-by. However, the space agency now is using AI to make this job easier.
NASA used an AI system to help its scientists schedule the observations of the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer in the fall of 2013. That system was ground-based and used by flight controllers to construct and send commands to the lunar space-craft.
"The more complicated missions get and the farther away spacecraft get, the harder it gets for the normal ways of doing business," says John Bresina, a computer scientist at NASA's Ames Research Center. "AI is one of the ways you can deal with that issue."
Smith says complex scheduling tasks can prove overwhelming for human actors, but AI is perfectly suited to the task.
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