New Telescopes to Search the Galaxy for Signs of Alien Life

New telescopes will aim to detect alien signals in the Milky Way Galaxy.

A group of new telescopes will search our galaxy for evidence of alien signals, astronomers have revealed.

Astronomers, led by U.C. San Diego physicist Shelley Wright will deploy a pair of telescopes that will continuously search the night sky for signs of intelligent life in our galaxy.

Researchers from U.C. San Diego, UC Berkeley, University of California Observatories, and Harvard University recently installed two prototype telescopes at the Lick Observatory.

They are the first of hundreds of telescopes planned to be installed as part of a project called Panoramic SETI or PANOSETI (Pulsed All-sky Near-infrared Optical SETI).

When completely assembled, PANOSETI will be the first dedicated observatory capable of constantly searching for flashes of optical or infrared light in the galaxy.

Such pulsed signals could occur on time scales of nanoseconds to seconds and could be of artificial origin (for example, extraterrestrial communication) or astrophysical phenomena (for example, counterparts of fast radio bursts).

Wright explained that the deployment of the two PANOSETI telescopes offers astronomers a new window on how the universe behaves at nanosecond time scales.

PANOSETI explores the universe at time scales of millionths of a second, something which has not been well examined to date.

“When astronomers examine an unexplored parameter space, they usually find something surprising that no one predicted,” explained  Dan Werthimer, chief technologist at UC Berkeley’s SETI Research Center and coinvestigator.

“PANOSETI could discover new astronomical phenomena or signals from E.T.”

An artists rendering of an alien being. Shutterstock.
An artists rendering of an alien being. Shutterstock.

How, and if PANOSETI will work remains an enigma. How likely is it that scientists will be able to spot extraterrestrial signals? Reachers say that the likelihood of detections remains an enigma in the equation, and we won’t know until we try.

“The short and correct answer is we have no idea on the likelihood of detection,” said Wright. “With PANOSETI, we will be observing an unexplored phase space for SETI and astronomical observations. Our goal is to make the first dedicated SETI observatory that is capable of observing the entire visible sky all of the time.”

Scientists have revealed that PANJOSETI’s goal is to search the galaxy for very brief and powerful signals which may have been created by intelligent alien civilizations.

“Because they are so brief, and likely to be rare, we plan to check large areas of the sky for a long period,” explained Werthimer

PANOSETI began development in 2018, with the goal of creating a dedicated optical SETI observatory to take images of the entire observable sky, approximately 10,000 square degrees, instantly.

The final project plans to generate hundreds of telescopes to achieve this huge sky coverage.

What sets the program apart from other similar programs apart is that a single PANOSETI telescope generates images of 10 degrees by 10 degrees.

For reference, Earth’s moon is half a degree in size.

PANOSETI’s final design will see the creation of a dedicated observatory at each of the two locations. Each observatory is expected to contain 80 of these unique, alien-hunting telescopes. Site selection is underway, and the research team hopes to begin the construction of the observatory in the next year.

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