AI Tools Could Help Find Life On Mars | USA

Study Suggests AI Tools Could Detect Signs of Life on Mars

/ 09:13 AM March 20, 2023

Researchers from the University of Oxford found that artificial intelligence can significantly facilitate the search for alien life on Mars.

Kimberley Warren-Rhodes, a senior research scientist at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California, said, “I’m very impressed and very happy to see this suite of work.”

She continued, “instead of wandering around for a long time, it would take us a minute to find life.”

How can AI help find extraterrestrial life?

Scientists have been trying to find signs of alien life by exploring Mars. For example, Mars has been sending rovers to the red planet for years.

Sending them to random spots on Mars is highly inefficient. That is why experts figure out the ideal locations for potential lifeforms based on numerous factors. 

Then, they narrow down promising regions on the red planet and send rovers there. However, we have not found evidence of extraterrestrial life


Fortunately, a recent study from the University of Oxford found that artificial intelligence may provide better results.

It could detect patterns in geographical data to identify locations that potentially support life. How did the researchers test this hypothesis?

They chose the Pajonales lakebed for their experiment because it closely resembles the environment on Mars.


Then, they collected over 1,150 samples and 7,700 images. Also, they used various instruments to test the presence of photosynthetic microbes within rocks, salt domes, and alabaster crystals.

The researchers used the microorganism data to compile markers of life called “biosignatures.” Moreover, they also gathered aerial photographs from drones to train a machine learning model.

Machine learning is a type of artificial intelligence that uses rules called algorithms and databases to recognize patterns.

The researchers used the model to predict which “macro- and microhabitat types would be associated with biosignatures that could indicate life.”

As a result, the AI reduced the search by 97%, increasing the chances of finding alien life by roughly 88%. SETI senior research scientist Kimberley Warren-Rhodes claimed:

“At the end, you could plop us down, and instead of wandering around for a long time, it would take us a minute to find life. It’s really a momentous time.”

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TAGS: AI, life on Mars
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