The Cognitive Communications Project is developing, implementing, and infusing cognitive communication technology into the Space Communication and Navigation capability of NASA. The goal is to increase efficiency and resiliency across the entire network stack, from point-to-point links, to routing between multiple nodes, to integrated scheduling of space and ground relay services. A cognitive system is able to mitigate obstacles, respond to and learn from its environment, and achieve beneficial goals towards the completion of its primary mission. A cognitive engine (CE) is a decision-making algorithm that enables part of a cognitive system, and there can be multiple CEs interacting in a cognitive system.
Broadly speaking, a CE can be implemented in many different ways utilizing different decision-making methods, including those based on machine learning, as long as the methods align to the goals of the overall cognitive system. In general, CEs must rely on multiple inputs and process data in different ways to come up with a usable solution; thus, all CEs require environmental feedback to optimize toward particular objectives. The complexity of a CE is driven by the number of objectives that must be optimized simultaneously and the availability and reliability of input knowledge.
The Cognitive Communications project performs research in four distinct but intertwined cognitive areas:
CEs applied broadly across all levels of the protocol stack will determine link optimization, network routing, and system management. While each of these focus areas can mature independently, the end goal is to transition towards an overall cognitive system-of systems, optimized across all layers. The spacecraft itself and the communication provider networks must perform joint cross-layer, distributed decision-making that conforms to the mission objectives and network capabilities.
Examples of technology development within the prime focus areas include:
The Cognitive Communications project demonstrated several cognitive capabilities using the SCaN Testbed on the International Space Station from 2015 to 2019. SCaN Testbed demonstrated cognitive link capabilities (including the first known space-to-ground link controlled entirely by an artificial intelligence algorithm) and implemented UIS using NASA's Space Network assets. SCaN Testbed was decommissioned in May 2019, and further development of cognitive capabilities transitioned to ground testbeds.
Currently, the Cognitive Communications project is formulating a multi-cubesat demonstration of integrated cognition on a spaceflight platform with demonstration in a relevant environment. Anticipated key outcomes of this demonstration include the routine use of adaptive links through the atmosphere (including optimization for propagation effects), inter-satellite cross-links and data movement between the cubesats managed using a cognitive algorithm, and optimal scheduling of data downlinks without operator involvement using government and commercial assets. This work refines and integrates many existing developments proven individually in the laboratory and on SCaN Testbed.
Cognitive Communications technologies also apply to the lunar communications architecture, in support of human return to the lunar surface in 2024. The ability to route and store data within network nodes, as well as scale network size on-the-fly as new assets arrive in lunar proximity, is a significant step towards reducing the burden of administering a lunar network from Earth. Ideally, cognitive techniques would allow lunar assets to communicate on demand with lunar communication towers or relays, providing seamless connectivity between assets, orbiters, and Earth.More »
Cognitive communications research conducted by SCaN aims to mitigate the increasing communication complexity for mission users by increasing the autonomy of links, networks, and service scheduling. By considering automation techniques including recent advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning, cognitive algorithms and related approaches enable increased mission science return, improved resource utilization for service provider networks, and resiliency in unpredictable or unplanned environments. Cognitive techniques show high potential for reducing user burden, performing better load balancing on network assets than can be accomplished by hand, and adapting to unpredictable communication environments without requiring action from a mission operations center.More »
|Organizations Performing Work||Role||Type||Location|
|Glenn Research Center (GRC)||Lead Organization||NASA Center||Cleveland, OH|
|Advanced Space, LLC||Supporting Organization||Industry||Boulder, CO|
|Astra Space, Inc||Supporting Organization||Industry||Louisville, CO|
|Atlas Space Operations, Inc.||Supporting Organization||Industry||Traverse City, MI|
|Bluecom Systems And Consulting, LLC||Supporting Organization||Industry||Albuquerque, NM|
|ComSat Architects||Supporting Organization||Industry||Rocky River, OH|
|DeepSig||Supporting Organization||Industry||Arlington, VA|
|Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC)||Supporting Organization||NASA Center||Greenbelt, MD|
|Oak Ridge National Laboratory||Supporting Organization||U.S. Government|
|PRIXARC, LLC||Supporting Organization||Industry||Beavercreek, OH|
|Vantage Partners, LLC||Supporting Organization||Industry|
|Warrant Technologies||Supporting Organization||Industry||Bloomington, IN|
|Worchester Polytechnic Institute||Supporting Organization||Academic||Worcester, MA|
|ZIN Technologies Inc.||Supporting Organization||Industry||Middleburg Hts, OH|