Wednesday 3/31 Ubiquity event: “Mars, Machine Learning, and the Search for Life beyond Earth” with Jill Tarter and Hannah Kerner

Ubiquity Ventures
4 min readMar 24, 2021


You’re invited to this upcoming Ubiquity Ventures public event to celebrate last month’s landing of the Mars Perseverance rover. We will explore how its mission to find signs of ancient life on Mars is accelerated by “software beyond the screen” and machine learning. This event features Jill Tarter of the SETI Institute and Hannah Kerner of the Ubiquity Extended Team.

“Mars and the Search for Life beyond Earth: How machine learning and ‘Software beyond the Screen’ fits in”

Wednesday, March 31 at 10:00am US Pacific Time by Zoom

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Credit: NASA —

Event Description

Join us for this very special Ubiquity Ventures event open to the public. On Wednesday, March 31st, we will celebrate the recent news of NASA’s Perseverance Rover landing on Mars with a Ubiquity event focused on the search for life beyond Earth and how “software beyond the screen” is playing a role.

We will start with SETI Institute founder Jill Tarter who will speak about her lifelong search for life beyond Earth, the importance of this search, and the evolution of techniques used since her work in this area began over 40 years ago.

Then Ubiquity Extended Team member Hannah Kerner will talk about how “software beyond the screen” is accelerating the search via novelty-guided targeting using machine learning developed for the Mars Perseverance and Curiosity rovers. She will give an overview of how machine learning is currently being used on Mars to flag novel geology in data transmitted to the Terrestrial rover planning team, and, in the future, allow the rover to autonomously detect and acquire follow-up observations of significant targets. These machine learning methods apply deep neural networks and other algorithms to rapidly identify geology-related patterns in images that are novel compared to images previously taken by the rovers.

Agenda for Wednesday 3/31

  • 10:00am PT — Welcome — Sunil Nagaraj, Founding Partner of Ubiquity Ventures
  • 10:05am PT — “The Search for Life Beyond Earth” — Jill Tarter, Founder of the SETI Institute
  • 10:25am PT — “How the Mars Perseverance and Curiosity rovers can use machine learning to detect the unknown” — Hannah Kerner, Ubiquity Extended Team Member

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About Jill Tarter

Dr. Jill Tarter founded the SETI Institute in 1984 and currently serves as its Chair Emeritus for SETI Research. The SETI Institute’s mission is to explore, understand, and explain the origin and nature of life in the universe, and to apply the knowledge gained to inspire and guide present and future generations. Jill has been named by Time Magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world and is a past recipient of the TED Prize. She and her lifelong search served as the basis for the main character in Carl Sagan’s novel “Contact” and the character played by Jodie Foster in the film adaptation of the book.

About Hannah Kerner

Dr. Hannah Kerner is an Assistant Research Professor at the University of Maryland at College Park. Her research focuses on developing machine learning solutions for a variety of remote sensing applications in agricultural monitoring, food security, and Earth/planetary science. She completed her PhD in the Interactive Robotics Lab and Planetary Surface Imaging Lab at Arizona State University and her undergrad in Computer Science at UNC-Chapel Hill (a few years after Sunil did the same). She has worked at Planet, Inc. and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, as well as served as Co-Chair of the NewSpace Conference (in the US and Europe) and Executive Director of the Space Frontier Foundation. She is a member of the Ubiquity Extended Team.

Register for this event

About Ubiquity Ventures

Ubiquity Ventures is a seed-stage institutional venture capital firm that invests in “software beyond the screen” startups and has $70 million under management. Ubiquity’s portfolio includes B2B technology companies that utilize smart hardware or machine learning to solve business problems outside the reach of computers and smartphones. By transforming real-world physical problems into the domain of software, Ubiquity startups tap into large greenfield markets and offer more effective solutions. Leveraging a decade of institutional venture capital experience, Sunil Nagaraj leads Ubiquity Ventures along with an extended team of over 40 experts with a range of technical and marketing expertise. See more details on the Ubiquity Ventures website at

Are you pushing software beyond the screen? Using smart hardware or machine learning to do something in or understand the real world? Let’s talk!

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Ubiquity Ventures

Ubiquity Ventures is a seed-stage venture capital firm focused on “software beyond the screen” — turning real world physical problems into software problems.