Artificial Intelligence helps NASA find the first solar system like ours



An AI neural network has discovered a system of 8 planets that resemble our own star system.

Data from NASA’s Kepler telescope combined with Artificial Intelligence reveal3e an eighth planet orbiting a star 2,545 light-years away, marking the discovery of the first alien solar system that resembles our own.

NASA has recently called a press conference to present to the world the discovery of Kepler-90i, a fiery and rocky planet that orbits its star once every 14.4 days. This planet was discovered using Google machine learning.

Machine learning is an approach to artificial intelligence in which computers literally “learn.”

In this case, computers learned to identify planets by going through Kepler data where the telescope records signals from planets beyond our solar system, known as exoplanets.

“Just as we suspected, there are compelling discoveries lurking in our archived Kepler data, waiting for the right tool or technology to unearth them,” said Paul Hertz, director of NASA’s Astrophysics Division in Washington. “This finding shows that our data will be a treasure trove available to innovative researchers for years to come.”

The discovery is an exciting one, despite the fact that we didn’t fine aliens or an Earth-like planet.

It shows how Artificial Intelligence can help scientists in the hunt for, not only exoplanets but alien life itself.

The find came after researchers Christopher Shallue and Andrew Vanderburg trained a computer to learn how to identify exoplanets by reading data that has previously been recorded by Kepler. Scientists taught the AI about tiny change in brightness that is recorded when a planet passes in front of its host star.

Inspired by the way neurons connect in the human brain, this artificial “neural network” searched through Kepler’s data and found weak signals from an eighth previously unknown planet orbiting Kepler-90, in the constellation of Draco.

Despite the fact that While machine learning was previously used in searches of the Kepler database, this research shows that neural networks are a promising tool to find signals of distant alien worlds that human scientists may have missed.

Other planetary systems are probably more promising in the search for alien life than Kepler-90.

About 30 percent larger than Earth, Kepler-90i is so close to its star that its average surface temperature is believed to exceed 426 degrees Celsius, which makes it a planet similar to Mercury.

Its outermost planet, Kepler-90h, orbits its star at a distance similar to the Earth orbiting the Sun.

“The Kepler-90 star system is like a mini version of our solar system. You have small planets inside and big planets outside, but everything is scrunched in much closer,” said Vanderburg, a NASA Sagan Postdoctoral Fellow and astronomer at the University of Texas at Austin.

Image credit: NASA


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