It seems NASA’s Kepler spacecraft been busy out in space, and so have researchers here at home. Using Google’s machine-learning technology to examine data from the Kepler mission, scientists have made a discovery that will be revealed at a press conference on Thursday, December 14th.
Why is this exciting? Kepler is a spacecraft used to hunt planets. So far, the mission has identified 4,496 candidate planets and confirmed 2,341. Of those, 30 are confirmed to be located within the habitable zone around their stars. Although we don’t know what NASA will announce on Thursday, it’s possible that the Google technology has helped identify additional planet candidates, giving scientists even more places to look for planets that support life like Earth.
Read the official press release below:
NASA will host a media teleconference at 1 p.m. EST Thursday, Dec. 14, to announce the latest discovery made by its planet-hunting Kepler space telescope. The discovery was made by researchers using machine learning from Google. Machine learning is an approach to artificial intelligence, and demonstrates new ways of analyzing Kepler data.
The briefing participants are:
- Paul Hertz, Astrophysics Division director at NASA Headquarters in Washington
- Christopher Shallue, senior software engineer at Google AI in Mountain View, California
- Andrew Vanderburg, astronomer and NASA Sagan Postdoctoral Fellow at The University of Texas, Austin
- Jessie Dotson, Kepler project scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley
For dial-in information, media must send their names, affiliations and phone numbers to Felicia Chou at firstname.lastname@example.org no later than noon Dec. 14. Questions can be submitted on Twitter during the teleconference using the hashtag #askNASA.
Teleconference audio and visuals will stream live at:
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.
For more information about NASA’s Kepler mission, visit: