NASA is expected to make a huge announcement regarding its alien planet-hunting project.
NASA has been using its Kepler telescope in conjunction with Google's AI system to find potentially habitable worlds that could host alien life, the Daily Mail reported. It is holding a livestream event on Dec. 14 to provide details on its findings.
Scientists with the Ames Research Center and Astrophysics Division of NASA's Science Mission Directorate are expected to speak at the event. A senior Google AI software engineer will also speak, along with an expert with the University of Texas.
The event welcomes questions from the public, asking participants to use the hashtag #AskNASA on Twitter. The livestream is expected to reveal the planet-hunting telescope's latest catalog of exoplanets.
"The discovery was made by researchers using machine learning from Google," NASA said in a statement in early December, according to the Daily Mail. "Machine learning is an approach to artificial intelligence, and demonstrates new ways of analyzing Kepler data."
"The challenge now is to find terrestrial planets (i.e., those one half to twice the size of the Earth), especially those in the habitable zone of their stars where liquid water might exist on the surface of the planet," NASA wrote in a statement, KABC reports.
Jason Wright, an associate professor of astronomy at Penn State University, went as far as to say that the Kepler would have the capability to detect any potential alien lifeforms.
"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 explained in a blog post.
In 2014, Dan Werthimer, director of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute, told lawmakers that more funding from Congress was needed in their search for intelligent life, according to the HuffPost, RT reports.
"In the last 50 years, evidence has steadily mounted that the components and conditions we believe necessary for life are common and perhaps ubiquitous in our galaxy," Werthimer said. "The possibility that life has arisen elsewhere, and perhaps evolved intelligence, is plausible and warrants scientific inquiry."
Wertheimer's colleague, Seth Shostak, agreed.
“If you extrapolate on the planets they discovered, there are a trillion planets in the galaxy. That’s a lot of places for life,” Shostak said, according to ABC, RT reports. “We know that the majority of stars have planets (but what) fraction of stars has planets that are more like the earth? It might be one in five.”