Astronomers to scan entire sky for alien life

The project was first announced last Friday in Seattle during the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) conference.

Bright nebula gas cloud in deep outer space (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
Bright nebula gas cloud in deep outer space
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
The truth of life in outer space may indeed be out there, but the hunt for extraterrestrials has just been taken to an unprecedented scale.
As part of a collaboration between the privately funded Seti Institute and the New Mexico observatory the Very Large Array (VLA), a group of astronomers will use 28 giant radio telescopes to scan every inch of the sky for signs of alien life, The Guardian reported.
The project was first announced last Friday in Seattle during the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) conference.
“The VLA is being used for an all-sky survey, and we kind of go along for the ride,” explained Andrew Siemion, director of the Berkeley Seti center. “It allows us to in parallel conduct a Seti survey.
While the VLA, which is one of the most powerful radio observatories on Earth, will continue normal operations, all data recorded will be duplicated and fed through a supercomputer, dedicated to sift through it and uncover any traces of distant life or technology.
Senior Apple executive John Giannandrea has co-funded the first phase of the project, installing new cables.
“Determining whether we are alone in the universe as technologically capable life is among the most compelling questions in science, and [our] telescopes can play a major role in answering it,” said Tony Beasley, director of the VLA's owners, The National Radio Astronomy Observatory.
Technology has steadily been reaching more and more to the stars in recent years, including the imminent advent of commercial space travel, as well as numerous government space agency efforts to explore space. As such, while mankind might seem to truly be alone in the universe, humanity is getting closer than ever to have any chance of finding out anything to the contrary.
However, some, like the late scientist Stephen Hawking, have questioned or outright discouraged making contact with extraterrestrial life.
Siemion, however, disagrees.
“Personally I think we absolutely should and I think without a doubt, we would,” he explained.
“Part of being human is wanting to reach out into the unknown and wanting to reach out and make connections.”
But what would the first words be when making contact? Would it be, as some have suggested, "we come in peace?"
This is something Siemion has spent little time thinking about, saying: “I guess I would just say, ‘Hello.’”
Another plan brought up at the AAAS conference was an observation effort with the James Webb Space Telescope.
The plan, brought up by Victoria Meadows, head of NASA's Virtual Planetary laboratory at the University of Washington, is set to launch in 2021, and will observe three Earth-sized planets orbiting the star Trappist-1, which is considered by some scientists as being one of the most promising possibilities for an atmosphere capable of having liquid water exist on the planet's surface
“The James Webb Telescope will be able to tell us whether they have atmospheres like the Earth or Venus,” Meadows said. “It gives us our first real chance to search for gases given off by life on another planet.
“We’re basically going to get to study Earth’s cousins.”


Tags space Alien