Scientists rewrite space hunting guide to redefine signs of life

Scientists rewrite space hunting guide to redefine signs of life

We’ve been searching for extraterrestrials in a serious way for 60 years now. This search is quickly expansion. Which forces scientists to define, more clearly, what the evidence of an alien civilization might look like.

The definition has become much broader, thanks to a study published on May 31 that lists a host of new “technical fingerprints” – objects in space that could indicate the presence of alien technology and thus an entire civilization, either living or extinct.

Pollution from exotic farms and factories. Habitable giant structures containing entire stars. Explosions of explosive radiation from the engines of high-tech spacecraft belonging to some other conscious species. These are just some of the signatures on the new list, compiled by a team led by Jacob Haq-Misra, an astrobiologist at the Blue Marble Space Institute in Seattle.

The new peer-reviewed study is accepted for publication in the journal Science astronautics lawreads like the outline of the first chapter of a sci-fi movie, as intrepid explorers glimpse fleeting evidence that humanity isn’t alone in the universe.

But the study is not fancy. Pooling the input of dozens of researchers across disciplines, it’s a serious science—and could help guide multibillion-dollar telescope surveys and space probe missions for decades to come.

Experts from abroad praised the study. “There are no major gaps in this list of technical signature search strategies,” Douglas Vakoch, president of METI International Research in San Francisco, told The Daily Beast. “We have a comprehensive enough list that we can get to the observation deck.”

there be Although the holes may be small. Scientists who weren’t part of Haq Misra’s study are eager to add a list of technical signatures, all in order to give us the best chance of learning about aliens if we eventually do come across them.

However, even the somewhat incomplete number of new technical fingerprints represents a significant improvement. As a scientific discipline, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence – SETI – began in the 1960s, when early scientists began listening to random galaxy noises, hoping to hear a repetitive, structured signal that could only come from intelligent beings.

There are no major gaps in the list of technical signature search strategies. Our list is comprehensive enough that we can get to the monitoring floor.

Douglas Vakoch, METI International

Only in the past few years have we expanded SETI to include deliberate scanning of artificial laser flashes — the kind that aliens might use to communicate between planets or even propel certain types of spacecraft.

New telescopes, sensors, instruments, and search algorithms — some ready to deploy, others still in development — give us reason to add a whole set of SETI signatures on top of radio signals and laser flashes. Think of the accepted list of these signatures as a kind of informal identification guide to extraterrestrials, like the cosmic version of guidebooks people carry when they go bird-watching.

New technical signatures championed by Haq-Masra and colleagues include: signs of industrial pollution in the atmosphere of a distant planet; the intense night lights of sprawling exotic cities; And the distinctive reflections of the huge solar arrays that could power those cities.

Then there are the potential structures in space: alien space stations or, more broadly, giant space colonies or power generators that partially or completely surround a distant star. We should also look for pulses of radiation from the engines of alien spacecraft traveling to or from some of our outer world or the bases of the outer world.

Each of the study’s eleven authors — who run the science hierarchy from undergraduate astronomers to NASA advisors and private researchers — have their own preferred technical footprint. The thing they think we should be looking for seriously.

Haq Misra told The Daily Beast that he is very excited about the pollution. Using new instruments — including NASA’s $10 billion James Webb Space Telescope as well as the Large Exoplanet Interferometer, a probe under development in Europe — it is possible to survey the atmospheres of exoplanets far from our solar system.

Certain patterns of light can indicate the presence of pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide, a possible sign of farming, industrial, and transportation technologies. “I am excited about the technical footprints of the atmosphere because it is completely unexplored, and we can point to examples on Earth today of how technology is changing our He said the right of Egypt.

Ryan Felton, an astrobiologist at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. and co-author of the technology signature study, told The Daily Beast that he’s very excited about the possibility of catching a glimpse of a Dyson ball or swarm of Dyson. (Felton works with NASA but emphasized that he does not speak for the space agency.)

The Dyson sphere, named after the late physicist Freeman Dyson, is a theoretical structure that completely covers a star, like a broad eggshell. A highly advanced civilization might build something like this in order to create an unimaginably huge living space with boundless power. Dyson squadron is basically crumbs From a Dyson ball – separate inhabited platforms orbiting a star.

Finding evidence of such advanced technology, perhaps using a telescope like JWST, would be like researching our potential technological future, Felton said. How will this exposure affect our technology paths moving forward? Seeing our response to these scenarios would be great.”

There are technical signatures that can be just as useful as those cited by Haq-Masra and colleagues, but it’s not In the new study. Wade Roche, famous science lecturer and author of the non-fiction book extraterrestrial beings, mentions one major omission. “It shocked me that the list does not include interstellar bodies transiting into our solar system,” he told The Daily Beast.

In other words, space probes are looking for we. Or neglected investigations that try to It searches for us for thousands or millions of years and runs out of energy before drifting endlessly across the galaxy. ET Space Trash.

Artist’s impression of the interstellar asteroid ‘Oumuamua’.

NASA

Some scientists, including Harvard University physicist Avi Loeb, have sparked controversy in recent years by saying that ‘Oumuamua – a strange, perhaps 300-foot-long body that streamed through the solar system after arriving from interstellar space in 2017 – is a sign that Extraterrestrial intelligence may exist. While most astronomers assume that “Oumuamua is a rock with a strange trajectory, Loeb insisted that we should investigate it as a potential spacecraft.”

We should expect the unexpected, no matter what’s on the list of accepted signatures, Ravi Copparabu, a planetary scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland and the latest author of Haq Misra, told The Daily Beast.

We could add a whole lot of tech fingerprints to our galactic search pattern and still run into something Feel As evidence of an alien civilization, but it does not fit any of our preconceptions. “I doubt that the first discovery might come from an unexpected source, an anomaly that doesn’t fit with the data,” Copparabo said.

For this reason, it is really important for SETI scientists to be open-minded. “The biggest challenge we face in finding space technology footprints is imagining extraterrestrial civilizations that are fundamentally different from our own,” Vakoch said.

Haq Misra acknowledged that we can’t even begin to guess whether and how we might eventually discover aliens, even after all these decades of research. “I can’t say anything about the possibility of finding any particular technology fingerprints, because we simply have no idea how widespread life and technology are in our galaxy,” he said.

the only way a guarantee We never find ET is a no-brainer, of course. “That’s why we need to search!” He said the truth is a pleasure. While searching, it’s easy to have an alien identification guide on hand. It is also easier to keep this guide as up-to-date as possible.

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