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Suddenly, circular holes were visible on the surface of Mars that were not there before. On photos of Saturn's moon Enceladus, geysers were discovered that hurl powerful fountains of steam towards space. And on the images sent to Earth by the Mars rover Curiosity, structures were found that look like fossilised worms.

All these phenomena, some of which appear to be temporary, were discovered by chance. Or because humans took a lot of time to sift through the images from Earth's neighbouring planets. "Artificial intelligence technologies would make it much easier to detect previously unknown anomalies," says Hakan Kayal, Professor of Space Technology at Julius-Maximilians-Universit├Ąt (JMU) W├╝rzburg in Bavaria, Germany.

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