A new artificial intelligence-driven system is being developed to reduce the risk of orbital collisions.
The European Space Agency (ESA) is working on a system that uses artificial intelligence to help avoid collisions with the rapidly growing amount of space debris that is buried in the environment around the Earth.
The spacecraft controllers of the European Space Operations Center (ESOC) perform maneuvers every 2 weeks.
These ESOC maneuvers are needed every few weeks to protect equipment from the threat of collisions orbiting space debris. Controllers from Darmstadt, Germany, are protecting their 20 low-Earth orbit satellites, according to an ESA report.
Still, the number of close encounters is growing, and teams need to monitor and evaluate about 5 times more close encounters than the number of maneuvers they conduct. They asked the multidisciplinary team to be on duty for several days continuously for several days to keep the equipment safe. It is now hoped that the new artificial intelligence systems will help perform the maneuvers themselves, to reduce the demand for additional full-time staff.
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Artificial intelligence can help save both fuel and detergent consumption.
“Any maneuver to avoid a collision is annoying,” said Holger Krag, head of ESA’s space waste office. “Not only because of the fuel consumption, but also because of the preparation that goes for it. We have to reserve passes for earth stations, which costs money, sometimes we even have to turn off the collection of scientific data. We need to have an expert team at our disposal at all times. “
There are all reasons to believe that the frequency of these events will continue to grow. Moreover, it is important to note that not all collision warnings are from pieces of space debris. Massive companies like Amazon, SpaceX and OneWeb have constructed and launched thousands of satellites into mega-constellations, adding more orbiting spacecraft each month than has been the case all year, according to a recent space.com report.
All of this additional orbital traffic concerns space debris experts, and ESA hopes artificial intelligence will help mitigate this rapidly growing risk. The goal is for the AI system to allow equipment to automatically evade the space stage or at least reduce the pressure on human teams.