ChatGPT: Imagining a Future Press Release About CERES

Image (Credit): The dwarf planet Ceres. (NASA)

I was playing with ChatGPT recently and asked it to create a NASA press release that would be issued if we ever found life on the dwarf planet Ceres. I wanted to see what it would create. Here it is:

NASA Press Release: NASA Discovers Possible Signs of Life on Ceres

NASA scientists studying data from the Dawn spacecraft have discovered evidence of possible life on Ceres, one of the largest objects in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. The discovery was made possible through the use of sophisticated instruments on the spacecraft, which has been orbiting Ceres since 2015.

The data collected by Dawn suggests the presence of complex organic molecules on the surface of Ceres, which are often associated with the presence of life. In addition, scientists have detected the presence of hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor of Ceres, providing further evidence of the potential for life on this small world.

“We are excited to announce that we have discovered evidence of possible life on Ceres,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “This discovery is a testament to the ingenuity and hard work of the scientists and engineers involved in the Dawn mission, and it opens up a whole new world of possibilities for astrobiology.”

The discovery of possible life on Ceres is significant because it suggests that life may be more common in the universe than previously thought. It also has important implications for future exploration of our solar system and beyond.

“We have always been fascinated by the possibility of finding life beyond Earth,” said Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen, Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “This discovery gives us new hope that we may not be alone in the universe, and it underscores the importance of continuing to explore our solar system and beyond.”

The Dawn spacecraft is currently in its final orbit around Ceres and will continue to collect data for as long as its instruments remain operational. NASA scientists are also planning future missions to Ceres to further study the potential for life on this small world.

For more information on this exciting discovery, visit the NASA website at

NASA Headquarters

It’s a fun fictional piece that builds on some real information, though it has its weak points. Here are some of my observations:

  • Spacecraft Information – Outdated: NASA lost contact with the Dawn spacecraft in November 2018, so a recent finding like this is unlikely unless it was buried in earlier data still being studied. The press release later states that the Dawn spacecraft is in its final orbit and still collecting data. While the spacecraft might remain in orbit for decades to some, its mission is over, as NASA noted when it stated: “Dawn spent every last drop of hydrazine making science observations of Ceres and radioing them back so we could learn more about the solar system we call home.”
  • Scientific Information – Good Speculation: Ceres does have hydrothermal vents that some have speculated could harbor life.
  • People – Actual Officials: The two NASA officials quoted are real officials – Administrator Bill Nelson and Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen, Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate – saying the sorts of things you would expect people in their positions to say.

Overall, it is a good demonstration of what these chat bots can do – piece together a credible enough summary to keep you guessing. Just don’t post this anywhere without full context. I do not want to start any rumors.

Space Quote: Google’s Expensive Mistake Regarding the JWST

Image (Credit): Actual image of the exoplanet 2M1207b (red) around its star 2M1207A. (European Southern Observatory)

“What new discoveries from the James Webb space telescope (JWST) can I tell my nine-year old about?”

-The one question put to Google’s Bard AI program, which was designed to rival Microsoft’s ChatGPT. In response, Bard stated the JWST took the very first pictures of an exoplanet, which was incorrect. The first image of an exoplanet can be seen above, taken by the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope back in 2004. The exoplanet, called 2M1207 b, is a gas giant about five times the mass of Jupiter. Following the erroneous feedback, the stock of Google’s parent Alphabet dropped about $100 billion in value. Below is an image from another exoplanet spotted by the JWST last year, called HIP 65426 b, which is about six to eight times the mass of Jupiter.

Image (Credit): First direct image of an exoplanet by the JWST. The exoplanet, called HIP 65426 b, is about 6 to 8 times the mass of Jupiter and only 15 to 20 million years old. The Earth is about 4.5-billion-year-old Earth. (NASA/ESA/CSA, A Carter (UCSC), the ERS 1386 team, and A. Pagan (STScI))

ChatGPT: The Roaming Roadster

Image (Credit): The Tesla Roadster leaving Earth’s orbit. (SpaceX)

It’s time to check in again with ChatGTP to discuss another Elon Musk issue – the Tesla vehicle he launched into space using a SpaceX rocket. I recently asked ChatGPT, which was funded in part by Elon Musk, to provide a three paragraph summary discussing the launch of the Tesla Roadster into space as well as the current location of that Roadster. Here is the response:

In February 2018, Elon Musk’s SpaceX launched its Falcon Heavy rocket into space, making it the most powerful operational rocket in the world. The rocket was carrying a special payload: a Tesla Roadster, driven by a mannequin named Starman wearing a SpaceX suit, was put into orbit around the sun. The Roadster, which was live-streamed as it traveled through space, was meant to be a whimsical demonstration of the Falcon Heavy’s capabilities, but it also became a symbol of Musk’s audacity and his willingness to take risks.

The Tesla Roadster is still orbiting the sun, travelling as far out as the orbit of Mars and as close to the sun as the orbit of Earth. Its precise location can be tracked using the website, which provides real-time updates on the car’s location based on data from the JPL Horizons system. The Roadster’s journey through space is expected to continue for millions of years, making it one of the longest-lasting man-made objects in space.

Although the Roadster was not intended to be a scientific mission, it has provided valuable data for astronomers and space enthusiasts. For example, it has been used to test the accuracy of simulations of the solar system, and to study the effects of space radiation on electric vehicle batteries. In addition, the Roadster’s journey has inspired a new generation of space enthusiasts and has sparked interest in the possibilities of space travel and exploration. It is a testament to the power of innovation, creativity, and the human spirit, and it serves as a reminder of the incredible things that can be achieved when people are willing to take risks and pursue their passions.

The summary amusingly states that this floating Roadster has provided “valuable data” and “…sparked interest in the possibilities of space travel and exploration.” It appears Mr. Musk still has his fingers in the program code. I believe NASA can get the data it needs without the use of a wandering automobile. Besides, you only need to know the impact of radiation on an EV battery if you plant to drive to Mars. And while I would agree that his “audacious” claims about a trip to Mars on the SpaceX Starship may have stimulated a few souls, creating a new form of space junk was seen for what it was – a dumb stunt.

All stunts aside, I look forward to seeing Mr. Musk focus again on Mars rather than areas outside of his expertise, such as Twitter. We need less space junk and more space missions with a destination in mind.

Video: More on ChatGPT and Astronomy

Credit: Dalle-2

If you have questions about the future of AI and astronomy, I recommend you visit Cool World Lab’s latest video titled ChatGPT Takes A College Level Astrophysics Exam. The video addresses concerns that ChatGPT can be used by students to cheat on tests and homework, and highlights how the program is far from perfect (as shown below in a clip from the video).

To test the abilities of ChatGPT, the host submitted questions from an astronomy final exam to see what would happen. The results were interesting, particularly when math was involved. I do not want to give away the final score (you should watch the video for yourself), but let’s just say a good student can do better than ChatGPT at the moment.

What happens in the future with this new technology is anyone’s guess, though in-class tests may be the best approach if a teacher truly want to know the capabilities of a student. Cheating happens all the time, and it will probably happen on the homework. We just need to ensure the final test is a real test of the student alone

Image (Credit): One of the questions asked in ChatGPT Takes A College Level Astrophysics Exam. (Cool World Labs)

Extra: The video also promotes Ground News so you can determine who is generating the “facts” you read in the news, human or otherwise. Check it out.

Astronomy and ChatGPT: Do Your Own Homework

Credit: OpenAI

While I recently used the new AI software ChatGPT (created by OpenAI, which was founded by Elon Musk and others) to draft up a poem, I did not use it to learn more about astronomy. Others have already attempted this and came back with mixed results.

Last month, the website Astronomy reported back on its results testing ChatGPT on a few questions. Some of these questsions included:

  • On average, how many stars are formed each year in the Milky Way?
  • What would happen if two supermassive black holes merged?
  • Why do the giant planets rotate so much faster than the terrestrial planets in our solar system?

The verdict? Astronomy was not impressed, reporting:

…once you start asking questions whose answers are not so obvious and dig into the subtleties of astrophysics — the types of informed, discerning questions that our readers regularly send us — ChatGPT becomes prone to giving answers that seem plausible, but are very wrong. To make things worse, ChatGPT is also very bad at knowing when it is making things up, and it can’t cite any sources.

Cloudy Nights users found ChatGPT to be a little more useful when listing out clear facts when answering questions such as “What are the best objects to observe in the night sky during January from the Northern Hemisphere?” It was also helpful answering this question – “What is the forum on the site Cloudy Nights about?”:

Cloudy Nights is a forum-based website that is focused on the hobby of astronomy. The site features a wide range of forums where members can discuss various topics related to astronomy, including telescopes, astrophotography, observing techniques, and more. In addition to the forums, the site also features reviews, articles, and other resources to help people learn more about astronomy and enjoy the hobby. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced astronomer, there is likely to be something of interest on the Cloudy Nights forum.

As with using Wikipedia as your main source, use ChatGPT at your own risk. I have more faith in Wikipedia because it represents the interaction of humans and therefore is based on more context for the answers. It also provides source material, unlike ChatGPT. If you use them as tools you should be okay. If you use them as oracles (in the original sense), then you are on your own.