For several years now, artificial intelligence has been surprising us with its abilities. Everyone already knows very well that it does an excellent job with drawing and has been using this opportunity for a long time – here is a selection of the most beautiful paintings. But did you know that artificial intelligence is also actively used in astronomy? In 2020, for example, it helped scientists discover a dozen potentially dangerous asteroids for the Earth. Artificial intelligence will be soon used to study the Moon, and this is not just a loud statement.
In December 2022, the Arab Rashid lunar rover was sent towards the Earth satellite, which is equipped with a system for recognizing stones and craters. Thanks to it, scientists will be able not to waste time on useless objects and concentrate only on what interests them.
Rashid rover mission from UAE
The Arab lunar rover Rashid was launched into space on 11th December 2022 on a Falcon 9 rocket from SpaceX. It is located on the Japanese space lander and should land on the surface of the lunar crater Atlas as early as April 2023. The device weighs 10 kilograms and is designed to operate during one lunar day, which lasts 29 Earth days. This means that the Rashid Arab mission will not last long and after completing all the tasks, the device will remain lifeless in the desert.
The photo shows that the size of the Rashid lunar rover is small
The main task of the Rashid lunar rover is to search for minerals. To do this, it is equipped with high-resolution cameras, a microscope, a thermal imager and a Langmuir probe – this is an instrument for studying plasma. Many other spacecraft are equipped with such tools, so this set will not surprise anyone. But, Rashid has one important difference from other lunar rovers – it was the first to be equipped with an artificial intelligence system.
Artificial intelligence to study the Moon
The developer of this system is the Canadian company Mission Control Space Services (MCSS). Its job will be to study “every pixel” in the images sent by the space lander. In photographs, it will detect only those objects that are of interest to scientists – for example, only craters and large stones. As a result, images will be sent to Earth only with objects important for research, which will save both spacecraft energy and time. Based on the data obtained, scientists from Canada will decide in which direction the lunar rover should move.
Thanks to MCSS artificial intelligence, the Rashid rover will only go where there is something interesting
According to representatives of the company MCSS, no artificial intelligence system has ever been further than low Earth orbit. Space Mission Control Director-General Ewan Reid noted that if the technology performs well on the Moon, it could be repurposed for other missions in the future. For example, artificial intelligence will be able to search for clouds or other interesting objects on distant planets. There is also a more mundane use case – the system can detect ships in the seas and oceans that sail without permission.
Canadian technology in space
It is worth mentioning that Canada is making a very tangible contribution to the space industry. For example, engineers from the Canadian Space Agency have developed several Canadarm manipulators. The first generation of robotic arms was used on the American Space Shuttle to move cargo in space. A newer robotic arm, Canadarm2, is now located on the outer part of the ISS and helps astronauts work in outer space. It still works great even though space debris got into it in 2021 – thermal blankets were damaged, but this did not affect performance.
In conclusion, it is worth mentioning that the Arab lunar rover Rashid was supposed to go into space in 2024. However, due to the rapid development, it was decided to launch it two years earlier. Initially, little was known about the lunar rover, but there were plenty of interesting facts about the space lander. For example, we already knew that it will receive energy not only from solar panels – it will be equipped with a battery from the Japanese company NGK Spark Plug. By sending the battery into space, scientists want to make sure it is suitable for use in this kind of apparatus. You can read other interesting details about the Rashid mission in this article.