Spaceborne Computer-2 completes 24 experiments on the ISS

COLORADO SPRINGS — Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Microsoft and NASA will share details at the 37th…th Space Symposium on 24 research experiments conducted so far on the International Space Station’s HPE Spaceborne Computer-2, including analysis of astronaut gloves powered by artificial intelligence.

Since the Spaceborne Computer-2 was installed on the ISS in May 2021, HPE has been working with Microsoft and NASA to demonstrate a variety of applications. Experiments conducted so far have focused on astronaut health, image processing, natural disasters, 3D printing and 5G communications.

The Astronaut Glove Experiment uses artificial intelligence to analyze photos and videos of the gloves astronauts wear when repairing equipment and installing instruments outside the ISS. NASA and Microsoft have developed a glove analysis AI model that looks for signs of glove damage. If damage is detected, an annotated image is automatically sent to Earth for further review.

“By bringing edge computing and AI capabilities to the International Space Station with Spaceborne Computer-2, we’ve helped nurture a growing, collaborative research community that shares a common goal of achieving scientific and engineering breakthroughs that… benefit humanity in space and here on Earth,” said Mark Fernandez, principal investigator for HPE Spaceborne Computer-2, in a statement.

Edge processing is becoming increasingly important for human space exploration, as astronauts traveling to the Moon, Mars, and other space destinations will experience communication delays. Used wisely, AI, cloud computing, and space-based edge processors could eliminate the need for astronauts to constantly send information to the ground for processing and analysis.

Another much-discussed experiment looks for mutations in astronauts’ DNA. Prior to the Spaceborne Computer-2, sending a 1.8 gigabit raw DNA sequence to deliver the data to researchers on the ground for processing took more than 12 hours. Data can now be processed on the space station in six minutes, compressed and sent to Earth in two seconds, according to an April 4 press release from HPE.

The Spaceborne Computer-2 is also used to test automatic interpretation of satellite imagery. Researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory are using a type of artificial intelligence called deep learning to automatically interpret data collected from orbiting land and structures after disasters like floods and hurricanes.

Another experiment by Cornell University’s Fracture Group tested modeling software that simulates 3D printing of metal parts and predicts failure or resulting deformation. Tests on the Spaceborne Computer-2 validated the software.

Cellular network operator Cumucore tested various features of its 5G core network on Spaceborne Computer-2. The experiment showed that installing 5G devices on some satellites and spacecraft could improve space-based communications.

The Spaceborne Computer-2, which HPE launched in February 2021 in a Northrop Grumman Cygnus capsule in cooperation with the ISS National Laboratory, is expected to remain on the ISS for about two more years.

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