Franz’s Allegro CL® Used for Scheduling the Hubble Space Telescope Discovery of Earendel

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Franz Inc., an early innovator in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and leading supplier of Graph Database technology for Entity-Event Knowledge Graph Solutions, announced that its Allegro CL (Allegro Common Lisp) dynamic object-oriented development system used by the Space Telescope Science Institute to develop the SPIKE Hubble Space Telescope observation scheduler has aided in the discovery of “Earendel,” the farthest star ever seen in the universe.

Earendel is the latest discovery from the Hubble Space Telescope, which has been observing the cosmos for more than 30 years. The light from Earendel has taken nearly 13 billion years to reach Earth and is the most distant ever discovered. Astronomers estimate the star existed within the first billion years after the universe’s birth in the big bang. This record-breaking discovery may shed light on the era of very early star formation.

“We almost didn’t believe it at first, it was so much farther than the previous most-distant, highest redshift star,” said astronomer Brian Welch of the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, lead author of the paper describing the discovery, which is published in the March 30 journal Nature. The discovery was made from data collected during Hubble’s RELICS (Reionization Lensing Cluster Survey) program, led by co-author Dan Coe at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI).

The Hubble Space Telescope uses an observational scheduling system called SPIKE, which was created using Franz’s Allegro CL. SPIKE is an operational application of artificial intelligence technology that has supported NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope since its launch and is integrated with a large and complex spacecraft ground system. SPIKE was developed for the Hubble Space Telescope, but was designed for generality and flexibility. It has been adapted for several other astronomical scheduling problems as well as to problems unrelated to astronomy.

“We are thrilled that our Allegro Common Lisp played a part in the discovery of this new, important star,” said Dr. Jans Aasman, CEO of Franz Inc. “The SPIKE scheduling system exemplifies the unique power of Allegro Common Lisp to create an intelligent application framework using multi-objective evolutionary algorithms that can integrate both generic and application-specific components – producing unparalleled flexibility over time. We look forward to future discoveries from Hubble as well as the James Webb Telescope, which also relies on SPIKE for multi-user scheduling.”

SPIKE Intelligent Scheduling System

“Efficient use of astronomical observatories is very important to the scientific community, since the demand for research-grade telescopes far exceeds the supply. The need for efficient scheduling is especially important for space-based facilities due to their very high cost, limited numbers, and unique scientific potential. The general approach taken in SPIKE is scheduling as constraint-directed search, but also incorporates novel approaches to both the quantitative representation and propagation of hard constraints and “soft” preferences, and to the use of scheduling search strategies based on multistart stochastic repair.” (Source: SPIKE, Mark D. Johnston and Glenn E. Miller Space Telescope Science Institute, 01.14.93)

Allegro Common Lisp (Allegro CL)

Allegro CL is a dynamic object-oriented development system especially suited to enterprise-wide, complex application development. The complexity of today’s software applications and the explosion of data size are pervasive in all fields ranging from Life Sciences to Manufacturing to Financial Analytics. Allegro CL is an effective system for developing and deploying applications with billions of objects to solve complex problems in the real world.

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