HomeEarthScientists used machine learning to find space rocks in Antarctica

Scientists used machine learning to find space rocks in Antarctica

Université libre de Bruxelles, Delft University of Technology and Vrije Universiteit Brussel researchers have used AI technology to find meteorites hidden in Antarctic ice. Scientists described how their AI system works. They also explained what it has shown them thus far. The study has been published in in the journal Science Advances.

Previous research has shown that a large number of meteorites strike the earth on a regular basis. Two-thirds of all recoveries happens in Antarctica. As Antarctica is covered in ice and preserves them. The dark coloration stands out. Previous research has shown that most such meteorites land on snow-covered ice. There they become embedded and are covered by more snow.

The ice accumulates and moves slowly toward the ocean. Here the meteorites drop to the bottom of the sea. But other meteorites wind up in ice. These do not migrate as much and has a different texture. It is known as blue ice. It can harbour easily retrievable meteorites. In blue ice most meteorites in Antarctica have been found. The means of finding such meteorites includes educated guessing and random wandering. The scientists said, it is not very efficient. In the new research, scientists used a machine-learning application to narrow down the search.

Scientists trained the AI system with satellite data which covers the entire continent. The data shows where blue ice fields containing meteorites have been found. These data helped the system by adding information about sites that yielded meteorites. This includes temperature and ice conditions.

Scientists used the system to search the icy continent for zones that met the criteria for likely meteorite sites. They found it to be approximately 83 percent accurate. The system also found more than 600 potential zones which it marked for a closer look by team members on the ground.

Scientists noted that many of the discovered zones were close to research stations. The scientists suggested the new AI tool and the use of drones can result in finding many meteorites in the coming years. This will help scientists better understand the history of the solar system.


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