Collaborating Authors

Space Agency

NASA Is Training an AI to Detect Fresh Craters on Mars


For the past 15 years, NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has been doing laps around the Red Planet studying its climate and geology. Each day, the orbiter sends back a treasure trove of images and other sensor data that NASA scientists have used to scout for safe landing sites for rovers and to understand the distribution of water ice on the planet. Of particular interest to scientists are the orbiter's crater photos, which can provide a window into the planet's deep history. NASA engineers are still working on a mission to return samples from Mars; without the rocks that will help them calibrate remote satellite data with conditions on the surface, they must do a lot of educated guesswork when it comes to determining each crater's age and composition. For now, they need other ways to tease out that information.

NASA declares the Mars InSight digger dead after two years


NASA announced on Thursday that a "mole" on Mars has ended its mission after landing on the Red Planet nearly two years ago. The mole -- also called a digger, drill, and probe -- was built by the German Aerospace Center (DLR) and deployed by NASA's InSight lander. Its purpose was to drill 16 feet into Martian soil to take its temperature and...well, it never managed to do that. The digger had drilled down merely 14 inches before getting stuck in the first month of its mission. Months later in Oct. 2019, NASA engineers made a plan to put the digger back on track by using a robotic scoop to help refill the 14 inches and support the digger in its next attempt at burrowing down 16 feet.

NASA abandons InSight mission to crack the surface of Mars


NASA has been forced to end its mission to drill down into the Martian soil after its unique geology proved too much for the InSight lander. The InSight probe was equipped with a probe -- dubbed the Mole -- which was going to drill up to 10 feet into the ground. However, the agency said that the soil's "unexpected tendency to clump" meant that the drill could never get enough purchase to function properly. It's the end of a long saga that began at the start of 2019 when the properties of Mars' soil proved tough to crack. After plenty of trial-and-error, and some help from InSight's robotic arm, the hardware only managed to reach a few centimeters into the ground.

NASA gives up trying to burrow under Mars surface with 'mole' probe

New Scientist

NASA's "mole" on Mars has failed. After nearly two years of attempting to dig the InSight lander's heat probe – nicknamed the mole – into the Red Planet's surface, engineers have finally given up. The InSight lander arrived on Mars in November 2018. Its main purpose is to study the planet's deep interior in order to help us understand the history of the solar system's rocky worlds. The lander has three main instruments to help it do that: a seismometer to catch vibrations travelling through the ground, a radio to precisely measure Mars's rotation and learn more about its metal core and a setup called the Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package (HP3) to measure the heat flowing out of the planet's centre.

Fly Over the Moon With Microsoft And Python


Although targeted at kids, this extension to Microsoft's learning paths teaching Python programming inspired by NASA scientists, is recommended for anyone who wants a novel way into coding and machine learning. Last summer Microsoft Learn and NASA partnered up to teach Python programming applied to Space exploration. Now they've added three new modules this time inspired by the Netflix's animation film "Over the Moon". The protagonist of the film is a young girl, Fei Fei, who wants to build a rocket to fly over the Moon in order to prove that the legendary Moon Goddess exists.Where the film meets science is when Fei Fei faces the same issues that NASA's engineers face when planning missions to Space. As such the learning path involves calculating the weight of Moon rocks that can be carried by an Apollo Space shuttle, predict when the Goddess is going to cause meteor showers, and finally employ machine learning to enable the Lunar rover to identify Bungee, the rabbit character of the film, while on the moon.

NASA drops surprisingly intense mission trailer for Perseverance's arrival on Mars


The Perseverance rover is only a couple of months away from completing its 300 million mile journey to the surface of Mars, and NASA wants you to know about it. On Monday night, the space agency dropped a one-minute "mission trailer" that looks less like an advert for a highly anticipated scientific event and more like a teaser for a new Ridley Scott movie -- heart-pounding music and all. Should Perseverance's landing in Mars' Jezero Crater be successful, the little robot will be tasked with collecting climate and geology information, rock and soil samples, and signs of microbial life on the red planet. It launched back in July and is due to land on 18 Feb. 'The Karate Kid' cast reuniting over Zoom is the ultimate nostalgia trip Peter Jackson's Beatles documentary sneak peek digs up unseen studio footage Check out this demo of a never-before-seen'Simpsons' game for the Sega Dreamcast

RainBench: Towards Global Precipitation Forecasting from Satellite Imagery Artificial Intelligence

Extreme precipitation events, such as violent rainfall and hail storms, routinely ravage economies and livelihoods around the developing world. Climate change further aggravates this issue. Data-driven deep learning approaches could widen the access to accurate multi-day forecasts, to mitigate against such events. However, there is currently no benchmark dataset dedicated to the study of global precipitation forecasts. In this paper, we introduce \textbf{RainBench}, a new multi-modal benchmark dataset for data-driven precipitation forecasting. It includes simulated satellite data, a selection of relevant meteorological data from the ERA5 reanalysis product, and IMERG precipitation data. We also release \textbf{PyRain}, a library to process large precipitation datasets efficiently. We present an extensive analysis of our novel dataset and establish baseline results for two benchmark medium-range precipitation forecasting tasks. Finally, we discuss existing data-driven weather forecasting methodologies and suggest future research avenues.

NASA's Lunar Gateway will feature Canadian Space Agency robotics


The Lunar Gateway, NASA's outpost that will orbit the moon as part of its upcoming Artemis program, will be equipped with external robotics from the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), NASA announced today. The culmination of an earlier partnership around Artemis, NASA's first major program to bring astronauts to the moon in half a century, CSA plans to build a "next-generation" robotic arm, the aptly named Canadarm3. That device will be able to reach many parts of the Gateway's exterior, giving astronauts an easy way to make repairs. Additionally, NASA says CSA will create robotic interfaces for Gateway modules, which will help with the installation of the outpost's first two scientific instruments. CSA aims to deliver the Candarm3 to the Gateway in 2026 via a commercial logistics supply flight.

The Steampunk Rover Concept That Could Help Explore Venus


Despite being nearly identical in size to Earth, our sister world suffers from a choking greenhouse effect, a surface covered in permanent sulfuric acid clouds, and average temperatures hot enough to melt lead. Most digital devices will get swiftly destroyed under such conditions, which makes planning a robotic rover that can survive long-term a challenge. So, thought Jonathan Sauder, a mechatronics engineer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, why not go analog? Rather than relying entirely on state-of-the-art components, a mechanical automaton built from high-temperature steel and titanium could travel over Venus' scorching terrain, using clockwork sensors to avoid obstacles while collecting power from wind and storing it in a wind-up spring. Though it sounds like the basis of some retro-future sci-fi novel in which the Victorians explore the solar system, a rudimentary version of Sauder's vision is being built and tested in the modern day.

Kernel Anomalous Change Detection for Remote Sensing Imagery Machine Learning

Anomalous change detection (ACD) is an important problem in remote sensing image processing. Detecting not only pervasive but also anomalous or extreme changes has many applications for which methodologies are available. This paper introduces a nonlinear extension of a full family of anomalous change detectors. In particular, we focus on algorithms that utilize Gaussian and elliptically contoured (EC) distribution and extend them to their nonlinear counterparts based on the theory of reproducing kernels' Hilbert space. We illustrate the performance of the kernel methods introduced in both pervasive and ACD problems with real and simulated changes in multispectral and hyperspectral imagery with different resolutions (AVIRIS, Sentinel-2, WorldView-2, and Quickbird). A wide range of situations is studied in real examples, including droughts, wildfires, and urbanization. Excellent performance in terms of detection accuracy compared to linear formulations is achieved, resulting in improved detection accuracy and reduced false-alarm rates. Results also reveal that the EC assumption may be still valid in Hilbert spaces. We provide an implementation of the algorithms as well as a database of natural anomalous changes in real scenarios