NASA is hosting a major media conference at 1 p.m. EST Thursday, Dec. 14, to reveal the latest discovery made by the Kepler space telescope in the search for exoplanets and extra-terrestrial life.

What is interesting, and while not-being the announcement itself, is that NASA utilized machine learning from the tech giant Google. Machine learning is an approach to artificial intelligence, and demonstrates new ways of analyzing Kepler data.

When Kepler launched in March 2009, scientists didn’t know how common planets were beyond our solar system. Thanks to Kepler’s treasure trove of discoveries, astronomers now believe there may be at least one planet orbiting every star in the sky.

Kepler completed its prime mission in 2012 and went on to collect data for an additional year in an extended mission. In 2014, the spacecraft began a new extended mission called K2, which continues the search for planets outside our solar system, known as exoplanets, while introducing new research opportunities to study young stars, supernovae and other cosmic phenomena.

The incredible amount of data coming from the Kepler telescope means that scientists don’t have the time to sift through all the data to find that one planet they’re looking for. With the introduction of machine learning and artificial intelligence, NASA hopes to speed up the process and free scientists to do more important work.


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