NASA to announce major planet-hunting discovery made possible by AI


The space agency has called a press conference this Thursday to announce a new discovery by its Kepler space telescope, which has been searching for habitable planets and alien life since 2009.

When Kepler launched in March 2009, scientists did not know how common planets were beyond the solar system.

NASA often uses these sorts of events to make announcements from its Kepler telescope. By using machine learning provided by the tech giant, Nasa hopes that it can pick through the possible planets more quickly and hopefully find life-supporting planets sooner.

NASA and Google have scheduled a news conference to reveal their findings at 1 p.m. ET on Thursday.

The teleconference will be streamed on Thursday, December 14 at 1pm.

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Kepler's original mission was completed in 2012. "Thanks to Kepler's treasure trove of discoveries, astronomers now believe there may be at least one planet orbiting every star in the sky", it has been stated in the press release on NASA's website. "The challenge now is to find terrestrial planets (i.e., those one half to twice the size of the Earth), especially those in the habitable zone of their stars where liquid water might exist on the surface of the planet", NASA wrote.

In 2014, Kepler began a new exoplanet-hunting mission: K2.

It is thought the announcement will revolve around exoplanets - Earth-sized planets that orbit around their own stars.

Besides NASA scientists, Christopher Shallue, Senior Software Engineer at Google AI in Mountain View, California, will also attend the briefing. This has confirmed the existence of 178 exoplanets to date, with 515 further potential planets.

Researchers made the discovery using a Google AI learning machine, "an approach to artificial intelligence, and demonstrates new ways of analyzing Kepler data".