AI Weekly: In a chaotic year, AI is quietly accelerating the pace of space exploration

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The year 2020 continues to be difficult here on Earth, where the pandemic is exploding again in regions of the world that were once successful in containing it. Germany reported a record number of cases this week alongside Poland and the Czech Republic, as the U.S. counted 500,000 new cases. It’s the backdrop to a tumultuous U.S. election, which experts fear will turn violent on election day. Meanwhile, Western and Southern states like Oregon, Washington, California, and Louisiana are reeling from historically destructive wildfires, severe droughts, and hurricanes.
Things are calmer in outer space, where scientists are applying AI to make exciting new finds. Processes that would have taken hours each day if performed by humans have been reduced to minutes, a testament to the good AI can achieve when used in a thoughtful way. While not necessarily groundbreaking, unprecedented, or state-of-the-art with regard to technique, the innovations are inspiring stories of discovery at a time when there isn’t a surfeit of hope.
Earlier this month, researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California announced they had fed an algorithm 6,830 images taken by the Context Camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) to identify changes to …

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