CRNS Scientists Just Created an AI That Searches for Alien Life-Hosting Habitable Planets
In the search for life beyond our planet, things are a little more complicated than just launching ourselves into space, receiving a distress signal, and landing on a new planet to find that chest-bursters and xenomorphs are real.
In determining if an exoplanet can support or does support living organisms, scientists take measurements of things like atmosphere and compare them to conditions that we know are habitable.
According to researchers at the Centre for Robotics and Neural Systems (CRNS) at Plymouth University, humans will soon have help finding those life-supporting planets thanks to specially trained artificial intelligence that can find planets that might not just be potentially habitable for humans-but planets that could host extraterrestrial life.
"The main thrust of my research focuses on how such an interstellar vehicle (ISV) would identify potential life-bearing planets and classify them," researcher Christopher Bishop told Forbes via email. "To do this it has to be 'trained' to recognize them using an artificial neural network."
Bishop and his team trained a neural network to classify planet types based on their conditions and potential for supporting life.
The five categories are Earth, early Earth, Mars, Venus, and Saturn's moon, Titan. The network was taught using hundreds of spectral profiles (each with hundreds of data points) from NASA's Planetary Spectrum Generator, and when it was given a new profile, Forbes reports that the network "performed well."
"This method may prove to be extremely useful for categorizing different types of exoplanets using results from ground-based and near-Earth observatories," project supervisor Angelo Cangelosi said.
To date there are over 3,700 confirmed planets in NASA's exoplanet archive, so having a system that can narrow the field and give scientists a better idea of which planets deserve a closer look will be very helpful.
Let's just hope the A.I. doesn't intentionally lead us to own demise by omitting certain facts about killer extraterrestrials.