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2 weeks ago
Microsoft Deploys and Tests AI Models in Space Aboard the ISS

Originally published in SiliconANGLE, April 4, 2022.

Microsoft Corp. today revealed how it has been working with Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co. and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to develop and test artificial intelligence models in orbit aboard the International Space Station.

One of the first models they developed is designed to handle the chore of checking astronaut’s gloves after each spacewalk for wear and tear.

The test was one of about two dozen experiments involving AI, cloud and edge computing that were run on HPE’s Spaceborne Computer-2, which was installed on the ISS about a year ago. Spaceborne Computer-2 is an edge computing and AI-enabled system designed with rugged solutions capable of withstanding the rough conditions of space, can perform more than 2 trillion calculations – or 2 teraflops – per second.

Checking astronaut’s gloves is an essential part of the safety procedure that takes place after each spacewalk. Each time they return to the ISS, astronauts have to take photos of their gloves and download them to Mission Control, where they’re closely inspected to ensure they haven’t been damaged or contaminated in any way. Astronauts also perform visual inspections of their gloves during spacewalks: One notably created headlines in 2007 after spotting a tear in one of the gloves, causing a spacewalk to be abandoned early.

That chore has become easier thanks to Microsoft, which has developed an AI model that’s able to streamline the glove inspection process.

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