A team of scientists led by Daniel Tamayo from Princeton University have developed an AI model that can predict the various theoretically stable orbital configurations of the planets in a system. This new study which will be published has theorized an AI model called Stability of Planetary Orbital Configurations Klassifier or SPOCK. The name is inspired by the beloved Star Trek character.
Daniel Tamayo, the lead author of the study, shared on his twitter that “We called the model SPOCK — Stability of Planetary Orbital Configurations Klassifier — partly because the model determines whether systems will ‘live long and prosper’.” Rephrasing this, SPOCK can predict the stability of the orbits by determining if planets will continue to revolve their stars along the same orbit or if they will change paths and collide with each other.
This research is a milestone in the understanding of celestial bodies. If accurately executed then this study will give a better understanding of how planets organize themselves around stars and how stable can these planets be in their lifetimes. The use of AI in this particular field will save tens of thousands of hours that scientists take to run ‘brute-force’ calculations with their supercomputers. The study says that SPOCK will be able to make the same calculation to make the prediction 100,000 times faster.
This new research will act as a starting point for using AI technology “to understand in detail the full range of solar system architectures that nature allows” according to Prof Michael Strauss from the Department of Astrophysical Sciences at Princeton. The ultimate goal of this new technology is to rule out all the unstable possibilities of a collision between planets.
Can this SPOCK surpass the popularity of the Star Trek’s SPOCK is a question that only time can answer, but let’s just put our space suits on and wait till then.