Artificial intelligence could help find planets that harbor life

Artificial neural networks (ANNs) could help scientists discover planets that possess life.
By Tyler MacDonald | Apr 03, 2018
New research from Plymouth University suggests that artificial intelligence could help astronomers in their search for alien life, according to Newsweek.

Scientists are training artificial neural networks (ANNs) to predict the probability that life exists on other planets. They hope to eventually identify promising targets for future space missions.

"We're currently interested in these ANNs for prioritizing exploration for a hypothetical, intelligent, interstellar spacecraft scanning an exoplanet system at range," said Christopher Bishop,a researcher at the Centre for Robotics and Neural Systems at Plymouth University.

ANNs are computer systems that mimic the learning process found in the human brain. They are ideal for identifying complex patterns in large amounts of data, which is time consuming for scientists.

Using an ANN, researchers could predict the habitability of a large number of planets. Ultimately, it could save scientists time and help them focus their energies on the most promising targets.

The Plymouth University team fed their ANN with atmospheric observations known as spectra, which originated from five different worlds. Afterwards, they asked the system to classify them using a "probability of life" measurement that utilizes atmospheric and orbital properties.

To date, the system has performed well.

"Given the results so far, this method may prove to be extremely useful for categorizing different types of exoplanets using results from ground-based and near-Earth observatories," said Angelo Cangelosi, a supervisor of the project.



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