NASA’s New AI Spotted 11 Dangerous Asteroids That Humans Missed

Over 7 lakh asteroids have been found in space. Asteroids are small, rocky objects that orbit the Sun. Asteroids frequently visit Earth’s neighborhood as our planet’s gravitational forces affect them.

Asteroids can bring tsunamis, shock waves and flattening winds that could be catastrophic. Asteroids, if hit Earth, can bring tsunamis, shock waves and flattening winds that could be catastrophic.

The space rocks approach towards the Earth due to the gravitational forces that affect them. Most of the asteroids will never pose a threat to our planet, but a very tiny percentage will indeed come close.

Modern telescopes and other observational tools can give astronomers a good idea of which rocks are headed our way, but dependence on humans has the possibility that dangerous asteroids may get missed.

To see just how many possibly dangerous asteroids we’ve been missing, researchers from the Netherlands built an AI network to analyze the data and see what it could find.

As the researchers explain in a new paper published in Astronomy & Astrophysics, the computer brain was tasked with spotting objects that were likely to come within approximately 4.7 million miles of Earth.

That distance might seem like a nice cushion, but it’s close enough that scientists would like to be able to track such asteroids over the long term to ensure they don’t cause a problem down the road.

The objects have a size criteria & measure over 100 meters in diameter in order to register with the AI as a threat. Objects of that size have the potential to cause damage if they were to directly impact our earth.

The AI ran simulations 10,000 years into the future, the AI returned some surprising results. Not only were there additional potentially dangerous objects that hadn’t been detected, but there were quite a few of them.

A total of 11 asteroids that were not on NASA’s list of potentially hazardous objects were cited as being of potential concern. These asteroids have not previously been identified as potentially dangerous is because the orbit of these asteroids is so chaotic

“The resulting instrument named the Hazardous Object Identifier (HOI) was trained based on an artificial set of known impactors which were generated by launching objects from Earth’s surface and integrating them backward in time,” the researchers wrote in the study’s abstract.

“HOI was able to identify 95.25% of the known impactors simulated that were present in the test set as potential impactors. Besides, HOI was able to identify 90.99% of the potentially hazardous objects identified by NASA, without being trained on them directly.”

The neural network can recognize well-known near-earth objects. In addition, HOI also identifies a number of hazardous objects that were not previously classified as such. For example, HOI discovered eleven asteroids that, between the years 2131 and 2923, come closer than ten times the Earth-Moon distance and are larger than a hundred meters in diameter.

Going forward, the researchers hope to hone their technique to be able to predict dangerous flybys with even greater accuracy. “We now know that our method works, but we would certainly like to delve deeper into the research with a better neural network and with more input,” Zwart, a member of the research team, explains.

“The tricky part is that small disruptions in the orbit calculations can lead to major changes in the conclusions.”

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