Will SETI build an “unprecedented” network to detect lasers from alien civilizations?
Called LaserSETI, the network will monitor the entire night sky for lasers that could be used by advanced alien civilizations in an attempt to communicate, SETI said.
Messages through light are more effective than radio waves because they can transmit a lot of information. However, in recent decades, there have been only a small number of SETI optical designs that could scan stars for extremely brief flashes of light.
Searching for signals from extraterrestrial lasers by SETI
The institute stated that all instruments used for these projects are based on photomultiplier tubes. to detect flares, making them essentially single-pixel cameras.
Flashes of light can be homochromatic, an intrinsic characteristic of lasers . Therefore, it may be possible to use relatively slow two-dimensional solid-state detectors as part of the research.
Once built, the SETI device will use commercial lenses to take 75-degree images of the sky. Behind the lens is a grid that will transform any light source in the camera’s field of view into a dual spectrum, similar to a rainbow.
Although stars generate a full spectrum from blue to red, a laser will only appear at its characteristic wavelength.
Each device will consist of two identical cameras, rotated 90 degrees relative to each other along the viewing axis which, together with the dual iris response, will eliminate false alarms. that can be caused by cosmic rays.
You’ll also be able to distinguish different colors of light , which means you won’t be limited to just detecting short flashes.
“LaserSETI is trying to take a big step forward in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence.
It is the first project in optics or radio astronomy designed to cover the entire sky. When you don’t know where to look, an instrument with a huge field of view and time span allows us to cover much more ground than ever before.”
This was suggested by Eliot Gillum , the project’s principal investigator.
A project with high expectations
Funding for this SETI project was raised through a crowdfunding campaign in 2017, with additional funding provided through private donations.
The plan includes ten more instruments that will be implemented in countries such as Puerto Rico, Chile and the Canary Islands.
When this phase is complete, the system will monitor the night sky over approximately half of the Western Hemisphere.
For now, the last observatory installed is in Haleakala, Hawaii, with a privileged view at 10,000 feet above sea level.
“The possibility that there is life elsewhere is exciting for the public. Especially with reports of biologically interesting molecules in the atmosphere of Venus, NASA’s selection of two Venus missions, the Perseverance mission to Mars and the upcoming Clipper mission to explore Jupiter’s moon Europa.
So said Karen Meech , acting director of the Institute of Astronomy at the University of Hawaii.
“Our university has long been involved in astrobiology to explore the possibility of life elsewhere. Both through research related to the formation of habitable worlds, the discovery of exoplanets and the development of new mirror and telescope technologies to detect planets.
It’s exciting to add a new direction to this search, looking for technology companies.”
There is no doubt that SETI opens up a whole new range of possibilities for discovering possible signs of extraterrestrial life elsewhere. However, it’s worth asking: are these life forms trying to communicate with us?