December 15, 2017

The Dragon space cargo ship blasting off atop a Falcon 9 rocket to start its CRS-13 mission (Image courtesy SpaceX)

A little while ago the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft blasted off atop a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral in its CRS-13 (Cargo Resupply Service 13) mission, also referred to as SPX-13. After just over ten minutes it separated successfully from the rocket’s last stage and went en route. This is the 13th mission for the Dragon spacecraft to resupply the International Space Station with various cargoes and then return to Earth, again with various cargoes.

Comparison between the Kepler-90 system and the solar system (Image NASA/Ames Research Center/Wendy Stenzel)

At a press conference, the annoucement came of the first exoplanets discovered thanks to the TensorFlow machine learning engine created by Google. Researchers Christopher Shallue and Andrew Vanderburg trained this system to make it recognize exoplanets in the data collected by NASA’s Kepler space telescope. The two exoplanets announced are Kepler-90i and Kepler-80g but it’s only the beginning for a new way to look for exoplanets, especially the smaller ones that leave very weak traces.