NASA looks to DARPA's deep web search technology for future spacecraft data analysis

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NASA is teaming up with DARPA for the Memex initiative, working on technology that explores connections between scraps of information hidden in the vast ocean that is the Deep Web(Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

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NASA has partnered with DARPA to develop technology that allows for the indexing of Deep Web content. The agency plans to turn the tool towards the wealth of data collected by its spacecraft, as well as its huge archive of published scientific data, allowing researchers to better analyze findings while making it easier to confirm they're breaking new ground.

While normal web searches do a generally good job of throwing up the information you're looking for, they don't tap into a huge reservoir of uncatalogued data, often referred to as the Deep Web. DARPA has been working on a toolset known as the Memex initiative, that will allow for much easier accessing and cataloging of that untapped information, and now NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) has announced that it's getting in on the act, but with a different goal in mind.

The Memex initiative is essentially an effort to develop next-generation search technology that's better able to understand places, people, objects and the connections that exist between them. It's designed to work through text content, videos, images, scripts and more, building intelligent links between individual scraps of information.

Unlike standard web searches, which don't get much information from videos and images, Memex is designed to recognize the content of the media, identifying objects in individual video frames, and even linking to other videos containing them.

NASA believes that the functionality and focus of the technology make it well suited to adaptation for the analysis of photo and video data recorded by the agency's ever-growing array of spacecraft. The tech would allow scientists to quickly compare visual information about a particular planetary body to archived data, allowing for better analysis of geological features.

The technology could also be useful in analyzing imaging data from Earth-based missions that monitor things such as snowfall, and could enhance researchers' awareness of published work relating to their own studies, making it easier to ensure they're breaking new ground. Additionally, Memex would make it easier to search the content of PDF documents, streamlining researcher's efforts to obtain specific information.

NASA's JPL joins 16 other teams working on the initiative, but really sets itself apart in its goal to turn the tool towards scientific discovery.

Source: NASA

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