A computer scientist from Northern Ireland is helping revolutionise American space exploration.
Roy Sterritt is using automatic computing to make craft self-controlled, instead of mission control having to guide them at practically every turn. Swarms of small spaceships would replace single crafts.
Mr Sterritt and Nasa scientist Mike Hinchey have collaborated on the projects and US authorities granted the space agency two patents on the men's work.
The Jordanstown researcher was recently honoured for his pioneering work by Nasa in Maryland.
“It was a marvellous feeling to be recognised publicly at such a high-profile event,” he said.
“Nasa's recognition adds a whole new dimension to my activity at the UUJ, which I hope will develop further and lead to other innovative work that will make space exploration more secure.”
He and Mr Hinchey devised programs that could make small robotic craft self-directing, self-controlling and self-destructing if their autonomous behaviour threatened the safety or aims of the mission.
The Belfast man first caught Nasa's attention six years ago when senior scientists there heard him speak about his innovative concepts.