Beyond Low Earth Orbit: Biological Research, Artificial Intelligence, and Self-Driving Labs


Space biology research aims to understand fundamental effects of spaceflight on organisms, develop foundational knowledge to support deep space exploration, and ultimately bioengineer spacecraft and habitats to stabilize the ecosystem of plants, crops, microbes, animals, and humans for sustained multi-planetary life. To advance these aims, the field leverages experiments, platforms, data, and model organisms from both spaceborne and ground-analog studies. As research is extended beyond low Earth orbit, experiments and platforms must be maximally autonomous, light, agile, and intelligent to expedite knowledge discovery. Here we present a summary of recommendations from a workshop organized by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration on artificial intelligence, machine learning, and modeling applications which offer key solutions toward these space biology challenges. In the next decade, the synthesis of artificial intelligence into the field of space biology will deepen the biological understanding of spaceflight effects, facilitate predictive modeling and analytics, support maximally autonomous and reproducible experiments, and efficiently manage spaceborne data and metadata, all with the goal to enable life to thrive in deep space.