SKICAT: Cataloging the Sky

Converting these large amounts of raw data into useful scientific results is a challenging task, which requires an entirely new generation of computing analysis tools. As a collaboration between Caltech and the JPL Artificial Intelligence group, we have developed a powerful new software system, called SKy Image Cataloging and Analysis Tool, or SKICAT. The system incorporates the latest in the AI technology, including machine learning, expert systems, machine-assisted discovery, etc., in order to automatically catalog and measure sources detected in the sky survey images, to classify them as stars or galaxies, and to assist an astronomer in performing scientific analyses of the resulting object catalogs.

The really novel aspect of SKICAT is its machine learning ability. The computer system can be trained by an astronomer to perform a very tedious and repetitive, yet non-trivial task of finding, measuring, and classifying the sky objects. The scientist can then concentrate on the interpretative and creative part of the work, again assisted by the new AI tools.

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