AiRANACULUS®, a private, Massachusetts-based technology company providing early stage research, development, prototyping and consulting services, announced it has been awarded a NASA Small Business Innovation Research Phase I contract for development of an advanced space communications architecture to support upcoming missions to the Moon and Mars. The contract contributes to the NASA Space Communication and Navigation program’s objectives to dramatically increase the performance, efficiency and reliability of mission communications networks.

“Space exploration represents the most demanding communications environment imaginable, requiring networking, scientific exploration, and position, navigation and timing information to be transported over a wide variety of system configurations in a time-critical fashion,” said Dr. Apurva N. Mody, founder of AiRANACULUS. “We believe that our new cognitive network architecture, designed to automatically sense conditions and manage resources as changes occur, is well-suited to these very complex problems.”

Overcoming challenging network requirements could benefit the Artemis program, NASA’s plan to land the first woman and the next man on the Moon in 2024 and establish a sustainable presence by the end of the decade. The effort will be managed primarily remotely from Earth, and will involve coordination of US and non-US space agencies as well as commercial partners. Future lunar exploration could also involve activity on the far side of the Moon, requiring flexible support for a variety of direct and multi-link network configurations.

AiRANACULUS has proposed development of a next-generation, cognitive communications network called CLAIRE. The CLAIRE system is designed to autonomously sense, detect, adapt and learn from its experiences and environments to optimize mission communications. CLAIRE will incorporate innovative sensing mechanisms to dynamically manage the multiplicity of current and planned transmission spectrum attributes; machine learning and algorithmic decision strategies to minimize network interference and ensure system performance; and advanced digital signal processing to shrink form factors and lower costs. The company will collaborate with personnel from Draper, IQ-Analog Corporation, Northeastern University and NorthWest Research Associates for portions of the Phase I work which will establish the technical and commercial viability of the CLAIRE solution.

“In addition to space exploration, the AiRANACULUS project will have great utility here on earth,” noted retired Admiral David Simpson, former Chief of the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau at the Federal Communications Commission. “Military operations at sea and on land, as well as public emergency response applications will benefit from radios that can learn and adjust, overcoming obstacles to ensure priority communications get through.”