Nasa is set to make a major announcement about a breakthrough in its alien-planet-hunting project.
The space agency is holding a live-stream event today at 1:00pm ET (6:00pm GMT) to reveal a discovery about potentially habitable worlds made by its Kepler telescope.
The satellite has been searching the stars for distant worlds using Google‘s AI system, which is helping Nasa find planets that may host alien life.
A teleconference detailing the finds will be live-streamed via Nasa’s website later today and will also be live-streamed on MailOnline.
Scientists from the Astrophysics Division of Nasa’s Science Mission Directorate and Ames Research Centre, as well as a senior Google AI software engineer and an expert from the University of Texas at Austin, will speak at the event.
The public can ask the researchers questions during the live event on Twitter using the hashtag #AskNASA.
The briefing is likely to reveal Kepler’s latest catalogue of exoplanets, which is set to be Nasa’s best look yet at possible alien planets.
‘The discovery was made by researchers using machine learning from Google,’ Nasa said in a statement earlier this week.
‘Machine learning is an approach to artificial intelligence, and demonstrates new ways of analysing Kepler data.’
The Kepler mission has spotted thousands of exoplanets since 2014, with 30 planets less than twice the size of Earth now known to orbit within the habitable zones of their stars.
Further studies have been able to detect some of these planet’s atmospheres, and the Google AI have been used to look through this data to find potentially habitable worlds.
Launched in 2009, the satellite has helped in the search for planets outside of the solar system that orbit within the habitable zone of their stars.
Last summer, astronomers revealed they’d discovered 197 new planet candidates, and confirmed 104 planets through the Kepler mission.
The planets, which are all between 20 and 50 per cent larger than Earth by diameter, orbit the M dwarf star K2-72, found 181 light years away.
At the time, the researchers, led by the University of Arizona, said the possibility of life on planets around a star of this kind cannot be ruled out.
Since its launch, the Kepler mission has been plagued by several setbacks, but has continued to spot new objects outside of the solar system.
In its initial mission, Kepler surveyed just one patch of sky in the northern hemisphere, measuring the frequency of planets whose size and temperature might be similar to Earth orbiting stars similar to our sun.
In the spacecraft’s extended mission in 2013, it lost its ability to precisely stare at its original target area, but a fix created a second life for the telescope.
After the fix, Kepler started its K2 mission in 2014, which has provided an ecliptic field of view with greater opportunities for Earth-based observatories in both the northern and southern hemispheres.
Because it covers more of the sky, the K2 mission is capable of observing a larger fraction of cooler, smaller, red-dwarf type stars.