Are AIs being used in satellites? If yes, have they learned to adapt in satellites?

In what way AI has benefited space exploration for us?

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    $\begingroup$ This sounds like an a question from an assignment? If so, can you please provide some more clarification. $\endgroup$
    – NerdOfCode
    Sep 29 '18 at 3:39
  • $\begingroup$ Of possible interest: Do any systems in space use Artificial Intelligence yet? and also Advances in AI and Avionics needed for deep space exploration? Several answers point out that a good clear definition of AI in the question would be helpful, and distinguishing AI from autonomous operation would be good as well. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Sep 29 '18 at 5:01
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    $\begingroup$ @NerdOfCode: Muze edited the question and (in my opinion) improved it. Looking at the original question, I'm not convinced it was a homework question. However, even now it is too vague and perhaps too broad. Astroboy, can you please improve your question? $\endgroup$
    – DrSheldon
    Sep 29 '18 at 5:14

If by artificial intelligence you mean software which includes neural networks or deep learning algorithms, no, satellites currently do not use this type of software on board. Satellites are however able to "make decisions" by evaluating sensor data and then preforming tasks such as pointing the satellite, orienting solar panels, and managing internal temperature autonomously.

Using current AI technologies on a satellite would also be a hard sell to satellite manufacturers and operators. The advantage of using neural networks, deep learning, or other algorithms is that you can more easily make the computer do things that would be hard to program with conventional methods. This is especially usefully in cases where every possible outcome of a scenario can't be predicted such as in self driving cars. The problem with such code is that it cannot be understood by humans--that means: there is fundamentally no way a human can understand how the system works as a whole and predict how it will react to all situations. This isn't very useful for satellites. A satellite operator spends millions, if not billions, on satellites and wants to make sure they do exactly what they're told and react exactly how they're programmed. Programming a satellite conventionally also isn't that difficult so there's really no reason an "AI" would be needed.

There are however areas in the space industry that do use "AI". Data processing of images and the evaluation of extremely large data sets is one common use case. There has also been recent progress in orbital prediction using AI algorithms and in spacecraft design (simulations of mechanical, aerodynamic, and fluid propertied) AI can also be used.

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    $\begingroup$ There are already startups bringing AI on satellites, see for instance aikospace.com $\endgroup$
    – Rexcirus
    Sep 30 '18 at 18:21
  • $\begingroup$ @Rexcirus, there are many near future and in development systems that incorporate some sort of AI however I interpreted the question as current operational usage. $\endgroup$
    – Dragongeek
    Sep 30 '18 at 19:31
  • $\begingroup$ @Dragongeek, Aiko Space has demonstrated (albeit on representative hardware and on the ground) the possibility of detecting novel pictures for science missions. Moreover, SCISYS is in the final stages of development of an AI for automatic route planning of the ExoMars 2020 rover (which hasn't been launched yet). $\endgroup$
    – ChrisR
    Oct 2 '18 at 5:29
  • $\begingroup$ I left this comment elsewhere then realized (duh) you wouldn't be notified "@Dragongeek Thanks! There is a ton of information there that I don't know yet, so I'm going to just delete this (at least temporarily) while I read-up further." $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Oct 4 '18 at 3:34

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