Final frontier: First Derivatives selected for Nasa project

Newry company’s technology can be employed to access and analyse mass data

Newry software and consulting group First Derivatives has been selected to support a Nasa project that aims to explore some of the mysteries of the universe.

Nasa’s Frontier Development Lab, which is an artificial intelligence research accelerator, has confirmed it will team up with First Derivatives to use its KX technology in its 2018 summer research challenge.

It is just over a week since First Derivatives confirmed it would pay $53.8 million (€45.9 million) to acquire the remaining shares in KX Systems that it did not already own from minority shareholders.

KX technology can be employed to access and analyse trillions of historic and streaming data records in real time.


The SETI Institute in London, as well as other leading tech and space companies, including Intel, Google and Lockheed Martin, will also work with the technology as part of the Nasa lab's new space weather and exoplanet identification projects.

Space weather

The AIM-listed company’s technology will be used to analyse space weather and apply Global Navigation Satellite Systems data to monitor solar activity.

KX will also be involved in implementing AI innovations to help discover new planets outside of the solar system that orbit around other stars.

The Nasa lab’s final results for 2018 will be presented at Intel in Santa Clara on August 16th.

Brian Conlon, chief executive of First Derivatives, said the Northern Irish company was delighted to be working with the Nasa team again.

“The ultra-high-performance capabilities of KX technology make it the ideal platform to address space challenges, from Earth observation to space weather,” he said. “This mission demonstrates the power and scalability of KX technology.”

Francess McDonnell

Francess McDonnell

Francess McDonnell is a contributor to The Irish Times specialising in business