What’s Hiding in Old Data?

April 10th, 2009

Posted by: admin

The recent discovery of an exoplanet in Hubble Space Telescope footage (H/T 80beats) is not so dramatic, until you learn that it’s footage from 1998.  It wasn’t an oversight, but the application of a new technique for filtering starlight from images.  Now astronomers are giddy with the prospect of finding more objects that were previously hidden.

While this makes the astronomy minor in me happy, the policy analyst in me is wondering how much new stuff is hiding in old data, and how finding it can be encouraged.  On the face of it, digging through old stuff sounds like history, like archival research.  I can easily see some fields looking askance at such work as not cutting edge, not likely to produce results, and generally a waste of time.  Perhaps the robotic forms of research I posted about earlier could do some of this work, but I think there would be a certain amount of human judgment required.  Maybe that will change.

One Response to “What’s Hiding in Old Data?”

  1. Maurice Garoutte Says:

    Compared to teasing human behavior patterns out of a chaotic scene with peoples, cars, birds, and moving shadows it should not be hard to detect differences between images of the orderly patterns in the sky.

    But such a robotic perception project would be more likely to get funded if it had a little more fear factor. The proposal should talk about “killer asteroids” more than exoplanets.