Rise of the Machines Mining the Kepler Data for Astrobiology
When: June 3, 2014 3PM PDT
Since its launch in 2009, NASA’s Kepler Mission has transformed our knowledge of exoplanetary system demographics. Kepler’s primary mission goal—to quantify the occurrence rate of habitable zone Earth-size planets around Sun-like stars—has a clear connection to astrobiology. However, in addition to its planet-finding capabilities, the Kepler data may also be used to study other questions of astrobiological interest. In this talk, Lucianne will discuss her work on two such ongoing projects: the quantification of the stellar flare rate, which influences planetary habitability through its influence on atmospheric photochemistry and escape; and the detection of anomalous stellar variability as a form of signal-agnostic optical SETI. Both of these lines of research employ machine learning techniques, making them applicable to the current and future large datasets that now dominate the astronomical landscape.