Spacecraft that can ‘think’! NASA Researches Ethereum Blockchain for Deep Space Exploration 6448
Roshni Vayyapuri
Apr 17, 2018 at 12:06 PM

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is an independent agency of the executive branch of the United States federal government responsible for the civilian space program, as well as aeronautics and aerospace research.

Recently they are doing a  research project funded and co-run by NASA is seeking to influence Ethereum’s smart contract technology to automate spacecraft movement and operation while avoiding the debris.

Seeing one thing in mind to enhance and make space communications and navigation more efficient and safer NASA is coordinating resources behind a research project that fundamentally envisions the use of blockchain technology. While this development could potentially have significant implications for deep space probes.

Dr. Jin Wei Kocsis, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Akron (UA) and Early Career Faculty grant from NASA will lead this project. The research project is named ‘Resilient Networking and Computing Paradigm’. Dr. Jin Wei Kocsis is a three-year $330,000 grant recipient. Kocsis is seeking to develop an architecture for spacecraft which is cognitive. This development could make the spacecraft less dependent on scientist’s directions.

Instead of waiting for commands and instructions from the scientists who are miles and miles away, this Ethereum-based smart contracts will help spacecraft to think on their own. Spacecraft can detect and evade floating debris that could cause damage in the event of a collision. Thereby they can avoid a possible collision. The decentralized architecture helps the spacecraft automate data gathering alongside other active tasks, freeing up scientists to analyze the data rather than spending time over calculations of flight paths of deep space probes to expect environmental hazards.

But, the details regarding which Ethereum blockchain is being used for the research project remains unknown.

Dr. Kocsis said “In this project, the Ethereum blockchain technology will be exploited to develop a decentralized, secure, and cognitive networking and computing infrastructure for deep space exploration,” “The blockchain consensus protocols will be further explored to improve the resilience of the infrastructure.” Kocsis added.

“I hope to develop technology that can recognize environmental threats and avoid them, as well as complete a number of tasks automatically,” she adds. “I am honored that NASA recognized my work, and I am excited to continue challenging technology’s ability to think and do on its own.” Stated professor.

Advanced communications program manager at NASA’s Glenn Research Center, Thomas Kacpura, said that the project would support decentralized processing among NASA space network nodes in a safe and secure fashion, resulting in a more responsive, resilient scalable network that can integrate current and future networks in a consistent manner.

The potential of this project is high to contribute to next-generation space networks and also, allows tech transition for commercial systems.


Image source: NASA