Autodesk engineers and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory came up with an all-new interplanetary lander concept using AI design. The concept could explore distant moons like the Enceladus and Europa. The design is slimmer compared to some of the common ones in operation at the moment and it’s also lighter. Autodesk made the announcement on the new design in Las Vegas this week. The company revealed a spacecraft that looked more like a woven metal spider.
Autodesk says that it has worked with NASA for the development of the spacecraft . Five engineers from Autodesk and five from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory formed a design team that collaborated efforts between the two organizations to create the new spacecraft. NASA has for long a time been looking at better and more effective ways to land on distant moons. The belief is that these moons could have oceans under their crusts and could provide more insights into the existence of intelligent life in our solar system.
Saturn’s moon Enceladus is one of the first options that NASA wants to explore. Scientists believe that the moon could have the potential to support life in its unseen waters. NASA is also looking to explore Jupiter’s moon Europa. The space agency had already received concepts for landers that may help it land there although we haven’t received much information about this so far. The hypothesis is that frozen ice on the surface of these moons could suggest that there are oceans underneath.
The new design by Autodesk is mostly experimental. In fact, the most important thing for NASA is to create a lighter lander than the ones it has already used. This is quite tricky for one reason. When it comes to space travel, there are only a handful of materials that can withstand the tough conditions. We are talking about titanium or even aluminum. But these metals are very heavy. The weight of the spacecraft may affect how far it can reach. NASA has long maintained that building lighter crafts could open new opportunities for deep space exploration. This can also help reduce the overall costs of expeditions.
What’s more interesting though is that the new Autodesk lander was created by AI. The company used its own AI software. The software is capable of developing hundreds of similar landers within very short periods of time. The concept is known as generative design. The technique allows engineers to come up with computer generated concepts. The AI has also been used to simulate conditions in space travel in order to determine which materials to use. The software can also explore different types of manufacturing methods based on the conditions including 3D printing and casting.
It took about a month for the design to be completed. The lander comes with three core sections. The first one is the internal structure. This is where the instruments to study deep space are located. This section is created using aluminum. The second part features the main body which offers structural support to the spacecraft and it’s made of aluminum. The third section features aluminum-based legs that allow for movement in space.