A new study has detailed how an artificial intelligence program estimated there might be hundreds of thousands of meteorites left for scientists to discover on the frozen fields of Antarctica, and it reveals the most likely locations to excavate them.

In the new study, researchers used AI algorithms to examine satellite data from Antarctica's whole surface. Their goal was to determine the zones on the frozen continent that were most likely to hold as-yet-undiscovered meteorites based on similarities to regions where scientists had previously found space rocks. They concentrated on optical, thermal, and radar data on surface properties such as ice temperature, slope, and velocity.

Nearly 83% of known meteorite-rich Antarctic zones were correctly recognized by the AI program. Overall, it discovered over 600 potentially meteorite-rich zones on the continent, many of which are currently unexplored and some of which are relatively close to existing Antarctic research sites.

"We found some unexplored areas with a great potential to find meteorites," study lead author Veronica Tollenaar, a glaciologist at the Free University of Brussels in Belgium, told Space.com.

According to the latest findings, the more than 45,000 meteorites retrieved from Antarctica to date represent only 5% to 13% of all meteorites found there.

"Our calculations suggest that more than 300,000 meteorites are still present at the surface of the ice sheet," Tollenaar said. "The potential remains enormous."

Tollenaar noted that because their AI program is not 100%accurate, researchers may go to a spot that the software found favorable and not find any meteorites. Despite the fact that failed missions would be disappointing, their data will presumably help develop the AI in the future, she said.

Antarctica is home to over two-thirds of all meteorites found on the planet. The frozen continent's cold, dry climate aids in the preservation of these extraterrestrial rocks, and their dark colors stand out against the ice and snow. Meteorites were once part of planetary bodies, and so, these space rocks from the bottom of the world have revealed a wealth of information about the solar system's origins and evolution.

Meteorites that strike Antarctica typically land in the snow-covered regions that cover 98% of the icy continent. Snow collects there over time, compacts, and turns to ice, encasing these space rocks within ice sheets that drift toward the continent's edges.

The researchers published their findings in the journal Science Advances on Wednesday (Jan. 26).