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Intel Showcases Application of AI for Space Research at NASA FDL Event

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Intel hosted the NASA Frontier Development Lab (FDL) Wrap-Up Event at its Santa Clara campus, concluding an eight-week summer program. Intel is a key partner in FDL and provided support to ongoing research that is exploring the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to solve a range of challenges within the fields of space weather, space resources and planetary defense.

Through its work with NASA FDL, Intel is addressing critical knowledge gaps by using AI to help establish humanity as a space-faring civilization and solve problems that potentially affect all of us here on Earth.

As part of the program, Intel supported and mentored researchers who used Intel® Nervana™deep learning technology to tackle the complex challenge of building detailed maps of the lunar poles – a thorny challenge that involves detecting craters and other features within the dramatic shadows of the polar regions as well as resolving the image artifacts and registration challenges required to make a cohesive map. This is a task that takes many weeks by hand for just a small section of the moon.


The team demonstrated that deep learning could achieve the same results as a human expert with vastly improved speeds, suggesting that detailed maps of all rocky objects in the solar system could be automated using deep learning techniques. It will also help future commercial space missions by providing reliable terrain mapping for missions looking for water and other volatiles. Intel supplied full Intel Nervana Cloud access and neon™ software to the researchers, as well as mentorship from Intel engineers.

Intel believes AI is driving the next big wave of computing and revolutionizing the way businesses operate and how people engage in every aspect of life. As a data company, it is imperative that Intel deliver solutions that create, use and analyze the massive amounts of data that are generated each and every minute. There is an incredible opportunity to make AI accessible to every industry, and Intel is working to do that with focus and support from across the company.

“Intel Nervana is uniquely designed to enable researchers and data scientists to use AI to solve some of the world’s biggest challenges, and it’s ideal for a problem such as accelerating space travel,” said Naveen Rao, corporate vice president and general manager, Artificial Intelligence Products Group, Intel. “From the moment we heard about this challenge, we were committed to applying our expertise and technology solutions to the groundbreaking work being done on applications of AI for space research. Congratulations to the research teams, and to the Intel mentors, who are advancing technology that could take us to Mars and beyond.”

At the event, the Intel-sponsored team shared its findings, which will be applied to near-term space missions. Additionally, Rao will participate in a thought leadership panel, in which industry experts will discuss the application of AI to space.

About Intel
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