(Posted September 20, 2017)

Courtesy: Kiri Wagstaff
Courtesy: Kiri Wagstaff

Huntingdon, Pa. – On Tuesday, September 26, 2017, Kiri Wagstaff, a researcher and uplink lead for the Mars Rover Opportunity at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., will be visiting Juniata College. Wagstaff, who has earned recognition from NASA, will be presenting a lecture titled “Teaching Computers to Read about Mars” at 7 p.m. in Alumni Hall, Brumbaugh Academic Center. The lecture will be free to the public. 

Wagstaff will speak about her research experience with machine learning, a type of artificial intelligence that teaches computers to learn information without being explicitly programmed, which will lead to the production of the Mars Target Encyclopedia (MTE). The MTE will include information from the data collected by the Mars Science Laboratory (Curiosity) in order to give scientists and the general public easier access to Mars surface targets.

Wagstaff earned a doctorate in computer science from Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. She has won several awards from NASA, including a Group Achievement Award in 2014 for her collaboration on the Mars Exploration Rover Science and Operations Team, as well as the Exceptional Technology Achievement Medal in 2012. 

Throughout her career, Wagstaff has completed projects relating to documenting automatic landmark identification and change detection in Mars orbital images, tracking north polar ice caps on Mars and analyzing sensitivity of machine learning. 

To learn more, attend Wagstaff’s public lecture on Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017. 

Written by Taylor Smallwood ’19

Contact Gabe Welsch at welschg@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3131 for more information.