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

12 December 2017

NASA's press release added that the discovery involved machine learning that "demonstrates new ways of analyzing Kepler data", but has remained cryptic about what the rest of the conference is going to be about.

Exactly what has been discovered won't be revealed until Thursday, but with Kepler there's always a good chance that some new distant planets will be part of the reveal. The discovery pertains to the Kepler space telescope, which is tasked with finding planets akin to our Earth in other solar systems.

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According to the agency, the media teleconference will be held on Thursday at 1 pm EST (1800 GMT) and will talk about the latest discovery made by the telescope that was launched in March 2009 to search for alien worlds. 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. "The idea is that if advanced alien civilizations build planet-sized megastructures - solar panels, ring worlds, telescopes, beacons, whatever - Kepler might be able to distinguish them from planets", Wright wrote in a blog post.

It found the majority of them on its first mission, between 2009 and 2013, but has continued to find more in its extended K2 mission, which began in 2014. It contemplated planets around stars categorized as bright M Dwarfs in the environs of the Sun.

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Thirty exoplanets exist in habitable zones. The second mission confirmed that there are 178 exoplanets that exist till this day, and that there are 515 additional potential planets.

Experts from NASA and Google will be on hand to explain the latest breakthrough. Attendees include Paul Hertz, the director of NASA's Astrophysics division in Washington D.C., and Christopher Shallue from Google.

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Jessie Dotson, Kepler project scientist at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California.

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