Scientists are searching the universe for signs of alien civilizations: 'Now we know where to look'
For the first time in more than three decades, scientists have received grants from NASA for the search for intelligent life in space.
The grant is used to finance a project to search for signs of life using "techno signatures".
"Technosignatures refer to 'signatures' of advanced extraterrestrial technologies that are similar to, or perhaps more sophisticated than, those we have," said Avi Loeb, a professor of science at Harvard and one of the fellows.
"Such signatures could include industrial pollution of atmospheres, city lights, photovoltaic cells (solar panels), mega structures or swarms of satellites."
The researchers believe that although life occurs in many forms, the scientific principles remain the same and that techno-signatures on earth are somehow identifiable outside the solar system, according to one of the fellows, the Center for Astrophysics, a collaboration between the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and the Harvard College Observatory.
The recent surge in exoplanetary research results - including planets in habitable zones and the presence of atmospheric water vapor - in the past five years has revived the search for intelligent life.
Exoplanets are planets beyond our own solar system. In total, researchers have discovered more than 4,000 exoplanets in the past 25 years, including some earth-like planets that can potentially house life.
"The search for extraterrestrial intelligence has always faced the challenge of figuring out where to look," said Adam Frank, professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Rochester and the main recipient of the grant. "Which stars are you pointing your telescope at and looking for signals?
"Now we know where to look. We have thousands of exoplanets, including planets in the habitable zone where life can form. The game has changed."
We are not alone, the study says: There could be "dozens" of intelligent civilizations in our galaxy
A civilization must naturally find a way to produce energy, and Frank said, “There are only so many forms of energy in the universe. Aliens are not magic. "
The researchers will begin the project with two possible techno signatures that could indicate technological activity on another planet: solar panels and pollutants, according to the University of Rochester.
"Our task is to say:" In this wavelength band you can see certain types of pollutants. In this wavelength band, sunlight is reflected by solar panels, "said Frank." This is how astronomers who observe a distant exoplanet know where and what to look for when looking for techno signatures. "
The grant is nearly $ 287,000 and has a two-year term, with the option of being extended to a third year.
This announcement follows a study released this month that says there could be more than 30 intelligent civilizations in our Milky Way alone.
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This article originally appeared in the U.S. TODAY: NASA funds research into extraterrestrial technological civilizations
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