AI as a Tool for Planetary Defense: How a Computer Could Help Us Make the Right Decisions When Facing An Asteroid Threat

AI as a Tool for Planetary Defense: How a Computer Could Help Us Make the Right Decisions When Facing An Asteroid Threat
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Last May, a diverse group of astronomers, space agency executives, government representatives, and theorists who study tsunamis and asteroid impacts met for a week in Tokyo to discuss the state of planetary defense.  This group also included a few members of the NASA’s Frontier Development Lab (FDL), an applied research accelerator, aims to foster collaboration between AI experts  and planetary researchers expressly for the purpose of finding solutions to NASA global challenges, including Planetary Defense.

Gigantic Earth Globe at the Miraikan Museum (Credit: F. Marchis)

AGU 2015 session: Direct Imaging of Habitable Exoplanets: Progress and Future

Artist concept of the planetary system Kepler 62. Image credit: Danielle Futselaar - SETI Institute
Artist concept of the planetary system Kepler 62. Image credit: Danielle Futselaar – SETI Institute

Join us tomorrow at the AGU Fall Meeting for a session on direct imaging of habitable exoplanets that I organized with my colleagues Ramses Ramirez from Cornell University and David Black.

This session consists in a discussion on the potential of new and future facilities and modeling efforts designed to detect, image and characterize habitable exoplanets, studying their formation, evolution and also the existence of possible biospheres. Topics to be covered in this session include signs of exoplanet habitability and global biosignatures that can be sought with upcoming instrumentation; instrument requirements and technologies to detect these markers; strategies for target selection and prioritization; and impacts of planetary system properties, ground-based and space telescope architectures, and impacts of instrument capabilities on the yield of potentially inhabited exoplanets.

AGU Fall Meeting 2014: Solar System Small Bodies: Relics of Formation and New Worlds to Explore

Can you believe it is December already!? As usual, it is a busy month with the AGU Fall Conference.  I co-organized a session on small solar system bodies with Padma Yanamandra-Fisher (PSI)  and Julie Castillo (JPL).  We will talk about recent discoveries in this emerging field including the discovery of rings around Chariklo, the understanding of regolith motion on asteroids, the new lander for Hayabusa 2 (MASCOT) and off course adaptive optics observations of asteroids. Below more info. See you there!

Where: Thursday, December 18, 2014 01:40 PM – 03:40 PM
When: Moscone West 3002

Why: The composition and physical properties of Small Solar System Bodies (SSSBs), remnants of the formation of planets, are key to better understand the origins of our solar system and their potential as resources is necessary for robotic and human exploration. Missions such as ESA/Gaia, NASA/OSIRIS-REx, JAXA/Hyabusa-2, NASA/Dawn and NASA/New Horizons, to study asteroids, comets, dwarf planets and TNOs are poised to provide new in situ information. on SSSBs.  Recent remote observations of bright and main belt comets; asteroid Chariklo, with its ring system; asteroid and KBO binaries illustrate that the distinction between comets and asteroids is blurred, providing a new paradigm for such classification. This session welcomes abstracts on the remarkable results bringing information on the internal structure and composition of SSSBs based on space and ground-based data, numerical models, as well as instrument/mission concepts in theprospect of future exploration.

Artistic representation of the triple asteroid system showing the large 270-km asteroid Sylvia surrounded by its two satellites, Romulus and Remus. The differentiated interior of the asteroid is shown through a cutaway diagram. The primary asteroid of the system may have a dense, regularly-shaped core, surrounding by a fluffy or fractured material. The two moons are shown to be strongly elongated, and composed of two lobes, as suggested by the recently observed occultation data by the satellite Romulus. (credits: D. Futselaar & F. Marchis)
Artistic representation of the triple asteroid system showing the large 270-km asteroid Sylvia surrounded by its two satellites, Romulus and Remus. The differentiated interior of the asteroid is shown through a cutaway diagram. The primary asteroid of the system may have a dense, regularly-shaped core, surrounding by a fluffy or fractured material. The two moons are shown to be strongly elongated, and composed of two lobes, as suggested by the recently observed occultation data by the satellite Romulus. (credits: D. Futselaar & F. Marchis)

Asteroid Minerva finds its magical weapons in the sky

The International Astronomical Union has chosen the names Aegis and Gorgoneion for the two moons of the asteroid (93) Minerva.  My team discovered the small moons in 2009 using the W. M. Keck Telescope and its adaptive optics system. We proposed the names after receiving input from the public.

Artist-Impr-Minerva-lowres-rgb72dpi
Artistic view of the Triple Asteroid System (93) Minerva. The 150km primary at the center is surrounded by its two moons S/(93) 1 Aegis and S/(93) 2 Gorgoneion.

Fate of Planetary Habitability highlighted at the AGU Fall Meeting

Together with Cynthia Phillips, one of my SETI Institute colleagues, I will convene a session at the AGU Fall meeting tomorrow afternoon (oral) and Friday December 13 (poster) entitled “Rapid Environmental Change and the Fate of Planetary Habitability“.

This session will be an opportunity to see recent works on the adaptability of life in abrupt climate crises. Recent discoveries inspire us to re-examine our understanding of how rapidly planetary habitats can be redistributed. Past habitable environments on Mars from the Curiosity rover, possible subsurface lakes on Europa, and potentially habitable exoplanets from the Kepler spacecraft continue to expand our definition of the habitable zone.

slide_frontThe submitted abstracts intertwined aspects of changing habitability, including the complex interactions among astronomical, geological, and climatic forces, on the Earth and beyond.

Everything you need to know about asteroids at the AGU Fall Meeting

It is this time of the year again… I am convening and chairing a session on Asteroids entitled “Characterizing Small Solar System Bodies” tomorrow Tuesday at the December 9th at AGU Fall Meeting. It will be composed of nine talks presented in the morning and twenty posters Characterizing Small Solar System Bodies in the afternoon.FrontPage_session

How we collaborate with a group of amateur space sleuths to study the triple asteroid (87) Sylvia

I am back from the 45th annual Division of Planetary Sciences meeting in Denver, Colorado, where I presented my findings on the study of the triple asteroid system (87) Sylvia through a poster and in a press conference (video here). Located in the asteroid main-belt, we know that (87) Sylvia possesses two moons since our publication in Nature Journal in 2005. Our team  has combined observations from professional-class telescopes and from small telescopes used by amateur astronomers to reveal that this 270-km diameter main-belt asteroid has a complex interior, probably linked to the way the multiple system was formed.

Artistic representation of the triple asteroid system showing the large 270-km asteroid Sylvia surrounded by its two satellites, Romulus and Remus. The differentiated interior of the asteroid is shown through a cutaway diagram. The primary asteroid of the system may have a dense, regularly-shaped core, surrounding by a fluffy or fractured material. The two moons are shown to be strongly elongated, and composed of two lobes, as suggested by the recently observed occultation data by the satellite Romulus. (credits: D. Futselaar & F. Marchis)
Artistic representation of the triple asteroid system showing the large 270-km asteroid Sylvia surrounded by its two satellites, Romulus and Remus. The differentiated interior of the asteroid is shown through a cutaway diagram. The primary asteroid of the system may have a dense, regularly-shaped core, surrounding by a fluffy or fractured material. The two moons are shown to be strongly elongated, and composed of two lobes, as suggested by the recently observed occultation data by the satellite Romulus. (credits: D. Futselaar & F. Marchis)

Live-Tweets of Jim Green Presentation at OPAG

A few days ago, I received in my email the following message from the Division for Planetary Sciences.
Community Urged To Hear NASA’s Jim Green Presentation On 10 January

There has been much discussion of NASA’s Planetary Science Division (PSD) budget in recent weeks (about R&A in particular). Next week, Jim Green will give a presentation at the OPAG meeting in Atlanta about this, at 8:30 am on 10 January 2013. We strongly encourage our membership to call in via webcast to hear what he has to say, and to educate themselves about the current and upcoming PSD budget, including R&A. You can register for the webex and see the agenda at http://www.lpi.usra.edu/opag/.

Rosaly Lopes (DPS Chair) & Heidi Hammel (DPS Vice-Chair)

I was very curious to hear what Jim Green, NASA’s Planetary Science Chief, wanted to tell at the Outer Planet Assessment Group (a new mission toward Europa? a boost in the budget of NASA?) but unfortunately,  I could not attend or listen to the his talk.

AGU Fall Meeting – Internal Structure and Composition of Small Solar System Bodies

Third day of the 2012 AGU Fall Meeting tomorrow, Wednesday December 5, and I anticipate another busy day. Julie Castillo from Jet Propulsion Laboratory and myself organized a session on the internal structure and composition of small solar system bodies (SSSBs). This session will give us an opportunity to discuss recent results on the compositions and physical properties of asteroids and comets.  The discussion and results should be new since our view on the internal structure of SSSBs has changed drastically over the past decade thanks to the exploration with spacecrafts and the discovery of satellites around several asteroids.

Possible asteroid internal structures by Walkers et al. (Advances in Space Research Volume 37, Issue 1, 2006, Pages 142–152)

AGU Fall Meeting 2012 – Planetary Evolution and the Fate of Planetary Habitability

Tomorrow is the first day of the AGU Fall Meeting, in San Francisco, CA. I love this conference, not only because it is 30 min door-to-door from my house, but also because it is BIG… Last year there were ~27,000 registered geoscientists, and there is no reason there should be less of them this year. With more than 29 parallel sessions in diverse  topics such as Atmospheric Sciences, Hydrology, Natural Hazards, Biosphere, Volcanology, Cryosphere, Education and of course Planetary Sciences, plus several social events, and press conferences, it will be a feast for scientists, science reporters and the public.