Skip to yearly menu bar Skip to main content


Inferring Physical Properties of Exoplanets From Next-Generation Telescopes

Kai Hou Yip · Ingo Waldmann · Quentin Changeat · Nikos Nikolaou · Mario Morvan · Ahmed Al-Refaie · Billy Edwards · Angelos Tsiaras · Catarina Alves de Oliveira · James Cho · Pierre-Olivier Lagage · Clare Jenner · Jeyan Thiyagalingam · Giovanna Tinetti



The study of extra-solar planets, or simply, exoplanets, planets outside our own Solar System, is fundamentally a grand quest to understand our place in the Universe. Discoveries in the last two decades have re-defined what we know about planets, and helped us comprehend the uniqueness of our very own Earth. In recent years, however, the focus has shifted from planet detection to planet characterisation, where key planetary properties are inferred from telescope observations using Monte Carlo-based methods. However, the efficiency of sampling-based methodologies is put under strain by the high-resolution observational data from next generation telescopes, such as the James Webb Space Telescope and the Ariel Space Mission. We propose to host a regular competition with the goal of identifying a reliable and scalable method to perform planetary characterisation. Depending on the chosen track, participants will provide either quartile estimates or the approximate distribution of key planetary properties. They will have access to synthetic spectroscopic data generated from the official simulators for the ESA Ariel Space Mission. The aims of the competition are three-fold. 1) To offer a challenging application for comparing and advancing conditional density estimation methods. 2) To provide a valuable contribution towards reliable and efficient analysis of spectroscopic data, enabling astronomers to build a better picture of planetary demographics, and 3) To promote the interaction between ML and exoplanetary science.