Microsoft has demonstrated how quantum-inspired algorithms can help smooth out Seattle’s snarled traffic, but can they solve NASA’s interplanetary data traffic jam? Initial results from a project at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory suggests they can.
Microsoft’s Azure Quantum team says it’s been working with JPL to optimize the management of communications windows for the Deep Space Network. The network relies on giant radio antennas in California, Spain and Australia to handle communications with more than 30 space probes, including the James Webb Space Telescope and NASA’s Mars rovers.
Optimizing the schedule for communicating with all those probes requires intensive computer resources, especially because the DSN is having to deal with increasing demands for high-bandwidth data transmissions. “Capacity is a big pressure,” JPL’s Michael Levesque, deputy director of the DSN, said in a recent news release.
Fortunately, schedule optimization is one of the sweet spots for Azure Quantum’s algorithms.