“After 50 meters, turn left.” NASA is building a new AI-powered GPS system to work on the Moon
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A new navigation system will help astronauts and lunar rovers better navigate the lunar surface using landmarks on the lunar horizon.
NASA scientists are training artificial intelligence (AI) so that it can use the features of the lunar surface to help move people and spacecraft on the moon. The AI will compare views of the lunar surface with existing topographic maps of the moon to pinpoint the location to within 9 meters. This navigation system will work as a backup when alternative navigation methods that depend on communication channels fail to work properly, writes Express.
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Now scientists from NASA are working with other space agencies to create a communication and navigation system on the moon called LunaNet. This system will use the lunar lander as a base station and transmit data back to Earth via a network of orbiting satellites. It will be not only a communication system, but also a system that will help determine the location and help in moving on the surface of the Moon, both astronauts and lunar rovers.
But according to Alvin Yu of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, astronauts and rovers may also need back-up navigation systems when communication with LunaNet is no longer possible. This is where the AI system comes in.
In order for AI to help more accurately locate and navigate the Moon, it needs to be trained. To do this, Alvin Yu decided to use data from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, which is able to measure the slopes and irregularities of the Moon's surface and, based on this, create high-resolution topographic maps.
“AI will be able to compare objects on the Moon, which will be seen by astronauts and rovers with images from satellites in orbit, thanks to which it will be able to provide the most accurate position information for any given area on the surface of the moon, “says Yu.
According to the scientist, this is similar to how if on Earth you try to determine your location by studying the horizon and surrounding landmarks. Yu assumes that the accuracy of the navigation system will be approximately 9 meters. The scientist proposes to use a similar GPS system on Mars in the future.
Focus has already written about the successful completion of the first phase of NASA's new lunar program called Artemis. The Orion spacecraft, so far uncrewed, made a 26-day trip to the moon and back. Now NASA is going to send the same ship to the Moon, but with astronauts in 2024, and in a year to make the first landing of a man on the surface of our satellite in 50 years.
NASA plans to build a base on the Moon and a lunar orbital station, which will allow us to study our satellite in more detail, and this will also be the first step towards the establishment of a lunar colony. In the future, this outpost can be used for the first trip to Mars and all further missions to explore the Red Planet.