30,000 meteorites are hiding across Antarctica as per this 'treasure map' created by artificial intelligence

WION Web Team
Amsterdam, Netherlands Updated: Feb 08, 2022, 11:06 PM(IST)

Researchers from the Delft University of Technology can be seen collecting meteorites on the ice Photograph:( Others )

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Antarctica is the most productive region for recovering meteorites, where these extraterrestrial rocks concentrate at meteorite stranding zones

Researchers have artificial intelligence to create a ''treasure map'' that detects 30,000 meteorites hiding across Antarctica.

Published ''Universe Today,'' the study has been conducted by scientists from the Delft University of Technology in The Netherlands.

Meteorites provide a unique view into the origin and evolution of the Solar System. These extraterrestrial rocks fell on Earth after surviving the passage through the atmosphere. Being directly accessible at the Earth’s surface, meteorites provide important insight into nebular and planetary processes. 

Antarctica is the most productive region for recovering meteorites, where these extraterrestrial rocks concentrate at meteorite stranding zones. 

"Through our analyses, we learned that satellite observations of temperature, ice flow rate, surface cover and geometry are good predictors of the location of meteorite-rich areas," said Veronica Tollenaar, who led the study.

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"Antarctica is very remote and many areas have never been visited. We expect the 'treasure map' to be 80 percent accurate." 

The analyses of the study suggests that less than 15 per cent of all meteorites at the surface of the Antarctic ice sheet have been recovered to date.

"We found several never-visited meteorite-rich areas that are relatively close to research stations," said Stef Lhermitte, who was involved in the study along with assistant professor David Tax from TU Delft.

Also read | Is there life on Mars?: Study of decades-old meteorite casts doubt on presence of life on the planet

"Moreover, the reports on the success of previous meteorite recovery missions are often ambiguous and not very detailed, which leads to a lack of good-quality labels. To circumvent this problem, we relied on 'positive and unlabeled learning', an emerging field in machine learning," Tollenaar said.

In 1996, NASA scientists presented research indicating a 4-billion-year-old meteorite found in Antarctica carried evidence of fossilized microbial life from Mars.

The initial discovery of the so-called Mars meteorite was greeted with acclaim and the rock unveiled at a standing room-only briefing at NASA headquarters in Washington.

Since then, however, criticism has surrounded that discovery, and the conclusive proof has been elusive.

(With inputs from agencies)

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