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A team of researchers, through an algorithm with which they have created a deep neural network, have found a total of 109,956 craters unknown until now.

The Moon is possibly one of the most secret celestial bodies in the Solar System. Despite being the only one in which humans have made a series of manned descents and that different missions have come there to investigate its properties, the truth is that our satellite continues to be a great unknown to us. In fact, practically every week we continue to discover riddles that had no answer.

This is precisely what has happened now, after a team of Chinese researchers has been able to find more than 100,000 craters on the Moon that we did not know about . In reality, this finding is much more important than we think, since it is not just about notches from the past, but it can offer us clues about how the Moon was formed and, even, how the Earth was ‘born’ or how the Earth arrived. life to our planet.

Over the decades, the most powerful telescopes on the planet have been able to detect countless craters on the Moon and, even on very clear nights, we may be able to see some of them very subtly from our own home. But what the group of researchers led by Chen Yang, associate professor of Earth Sciences at Jilin University (China) has achieved is to make the most extensive catalog ever made of lunar craters.

As he explains in his new study, published in the journal ‘Nature’, his team has been able to develop an algorithm based on artificial intelligence by means of which they managed to find a series of craters. Once this was done, they created a deep neural network, based on layers of mathematical calculations, in which they included the data of all the craters found, with which they managed to ‘teach’ him to find other possible candidates. And the surprise was capital.

Based on the data collected by the Chang’e-1 and Chang’e-2 orbiters, the AI ​​was not only able to succeed in finding the odd unknown impact on the lunar surface, but was able to find a total of 109,956 craters that were not known to date. A good part of them are considered small, that is, from one to 100 kilometers in diameter, but some have been found with a size of up to 550 kilometers in diameter.

The craters are the sample of impacts of other stellar bodies against the Moon, especially meteorites, that leave an indelible mark in the place where they impact, in this case, on the Moon. “In reality, they are nothing more than fossils that record the history of the Solar System,” Yang explains in the study. Or, put another way, they can help us to better understand our planetary system and understand how they were formed and what the nucleus of the different stars consists of.

In the same way, the algorithm was not only able to detect these craters, but it was also able to date them based on very distinctive characteristics, such as their size or depth, determining that they all encompass the five geological periods of the Moon. . Of course, some 19,000 of those recently discovered are more than four million years old, which explains a much more active universe at that time compared to today.

The experts’ next goal is none other than to improve their crater detection algorithm with data from Chang’e 5, the latest mission to the Moon. From there, it is not only expected to discover new unknown craters, but it is expected that this same system can be applied to other celestial bodies, especially in the case of Mars. Knowing why they were produced, their size and their age can help to discover unknown details of the Solar System.


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