NASA has stepped into the limelight today, as the US-based agency has now awarded a new research grant towards the development of an autonomous spacecraft that could make and execute decisions through blockchain technology.
Space.com reports today that the agency has donated a $330,000 USD grant to Jin Wei Kocsis -an assistant professor of computer engineering at the University of Akron, Ohio – to fund her research into developing a blockchain platform which could facilitate secure computing requests in deep space.
Speaking to Space.com, Kocsis explained that “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… I hope to develop technology that can recognize environmental threats and avoid them, as well as complete a number of tasks automatically. 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.”
Though the University of Akron has not offered an indication as to when Kocsis’ work might touch the edge of our solar system, Thomas Kacpura – NASA’s advanced communications program manager – did reveal that Kocsis’ research was the first occasion in which the agency had considered the applicability of blockchain technology in processing space communications and extra-terrestrial navigation.
The research, if fruitful, might well enable spacecraft to complete more tasks as well as provide richer forms of data to scientists for analysis. Chiefly, it is hoped that the use of blockchain technology might ‘free up’ a spacecraft’s processing power to enable it to readily detect threats in its vicinity.
The news does not, however, mark the first occasion in which blockchain technology has escaped the atmosphere. Qtum announced in February this year that its first space-based blockchain node had been deployed on a Chinese satellite.