NASA to make Big Reveal about an Exoplanet on Thursday

December 11, 2017
3 minutes read
NASA to make Big Reveal about an Exoplanet on Thursday

Kepler space telescope is now finding alien worlds with the help of artificial intelligence. So, NASA wants to make a big reveal on Thursday.

So, the space agency is about to give us some great news this week. The agency has called for a teleconference on Thursday (December 14) at 1 p.m. EST (1800 GMT), thus, revealing a new discovery made by its Kepler space telescope.

The prolific telescope has been hunting for alien worlds since 2009.

So far, the Kepler space telescope has successfully identified over 2500 planets, while over 2000 more need to be studied yet. The legendary telescope spots alien worlds by noticing the tiny brightness dips they cause when they cross in front of their parent star.

In a NASA news release issued on Friday (December 8) they mentioned AI as a key element in the epic find, revealing its vital contribution to the latest Kepler encounter.

“The discovery was made by researchers using machine learning from Google,” NASA officials wrote in a media advisory. “Machine learning is an approach to artificial intelligence, and demonstrates new ways of analyzing Kepler data.”

In a separate statement, NASA also explained the importance of machine learning and AI in space communications.

“By applying artificial intelligence and machine learning, satellites control these systems seamlessly, making real-time decisions without awaiting instruction,” explained Janette C. Briones, from NASA’s Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio.

However, scientists will reveal this major breakthrough at NASA Live.

The participants in the news conference

Paul Hertz, director of the Astrophysics Division at NASA’s Headquarters in Washington
Christopher Shallue, a senior software engineer at Google AI in Mountain View, California.
Jessie Dotson, Kepler project scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California.
Andrew Vanderburg, astronomer and NASA Sagan postdoctoral fellow at The University of Texas at Austin.

NASA is encouraging the public to submit any questions regarding the major discovery or the role of AI in the Kepler mission on the social media platform, under the hashtag #askNASA.

However, NASA scientists are currently working on the new Webb space telescope. The space agency scheduled it to be launched in 2019. The new telescope will be more advanced than the previous space telescopes. Its mission is to find Earth-like planets in the space.

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Thumbnail image: Artist’s illustration of NASA’s Kepler space telescope. Credit: NASA/Ames Research Center/Wendy Stenzel

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