Artist’s impression of a sunset seen from the surface of an Earth-like exoplanet. Credit: ESO/L. Calçada
The Galaxy is very big and it is tough to scan for alien signals plus we do not know how scarce intelligent radio using life is. Plus the signals get weaker over the distances.
New, very powerful listening devices will be coming into operation soon as well as sophisticated instruments that will be able to analyze exoplanets atmospheres to look for hints of life. SETI will expand into new areas and scientists will be able to devote a lot more telescope time to the search as the newly funded (100MM) Project Breakthough Listen kicks into high gear. It will cover 10 times more of the sky and the entire 1-10GHz radio spectrum. There will be more powerful optical and infrared searches and it is estimated the project will generate in a day as much data as SETI produced in an entire year.
The program includes a survey of the 1,000,000 closest stars to Earth. It scans the center of our galaxy and the entire galactic plane. Beyond the Milky Way, it listens for messages from the 100 closest galaxies to ours.
The instruments used are among the world’s most powerful. They are 50 times more sensitive than existing telescopes dedicated to the search for intelligence.
Try to brainstorm about how to search for non-radio using intelligent life
SETI scientist Nathalie Cabrol thinks its also time for a new approach to SETI’s search, a reboot if you will. She feels that “SETI’s vision has been constrained by whether ET has technology that resembles or thinks like us. She feels that the search, so far, has in essence been a search for ourselves. Electromagnetic fingerprints of radio transmitions carry a strong like us assumption”. She proposes involving a lot more disciplines in a redesign of the search. Astrobiology, life sciences, geoscience, cognitive science and mathematics among others. Her plan is to invite the research community to help craft a new scientific roadmap for SETI that very well may redefine the meaning of life and the cosmic search for new forms of it.
Centauri Dreams – The newly discovered trans-Neptunian object called Niku may have much to tell us about things lurking in the outer regions of our Solar System. But Niku does not validate Planet Nine. The question remains: What is causing the apparent clustering of certain TNOs in distant orbits?
Nextbigfuture – A team of researchers affiliated with the Warsaw University Observatory has captured for the first time the events that led to a classical nova exploding, the explosion itself and then what happened afterwards. In their paper published in the journal Nature, the team describes how they happened to capture the star activity and why they believe it may help bolster the theory of star hibernation.
In this type of binary system, a white dwarf sucks gas from a much bigger partner star until it blows up – about every 10,000 to one million years.
The consistent stream of images snapped for that project, the Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment, allowed the researchers to go back and see what the star system looked like before the explosion brought it to their attention in May 2009.
Even though it is 20,000 light-years away – a terribly faint pinprick of light barely visible among brighter stars, even in magnified images – this was a rare opportunity to study the build-up and aftermath of a classical nova.
Nextbigfuture – Spacex plans to use a lot more carbon fiber components instead of aluminum in their rockets. SpaceX aims to hold down expenses by reusing rockets and spacecraft. Originally, the company made rockets mostly out of aluminum to keep costs low, using carbon fiber only for a few parts, such as connecting joints.
Japanese materials maker Toray Industries will supply a lot of carbon fiber to SpaceX for use in the bodies of rockets and space vehicles.
The multiyear deal with Tesla founder Elon Musk’s 14-year-old venture is estimated to be worth 200 billion yen to 300 billion yen ($1.99 billion to $2.98 billion) in total. The two sides are aiming to finalize the agreement this fall after hammering out prices, time frames and other terms.
Carbon fibers are more elastic than similar material used in aircraft and thus will be able to withstand the harsh conditions of space travel. Re-using space vehicles will help slow the proliferation of debris, which has become a substantial risk to space exploration.
The Falcon 9 first stage weighs about 40,000 pounds and the second stage about 6000 pounds. When Aluminum is swapped out for carbon fiber typically 40% of the weight can be saved in airplanes and probably rockets.
Dry mass of the rocket is about 26 tons with a fuel mass of 396 tons, that is 5.9%, so you could save 2.3% by making it 40% lighter (this includes the thrust assembly/engines). A lighter system would also save on fuel usage.
The discovery was made by the European Southern Observatory (ESO) using the La Silla Observatory‘s reflecting telescope.
The European Southern Observatory (ESO) will be announcing the finding at the end of August
Nextbigfuture – The High Definition Space Telescope is a proposed space telescope that would be five times as big and 100 times as sensitive as the Hubble, with a mirror nearly 40 feet in diameter, and would orbit the sun about a million miles from Earth.
The revolutionary HDST space-based observatory would have the capability to find and study dozens of Earth-like worlds in detail.
The 10 milliarcsec resolution element of a 12 meter telescope (diffraction limited at 0.5 micron) would reach a new threshold in spatial resolution. It would be able to take an optical image or spectrum at about 100 parsec spatial resolution or better, for any observable object in the entire Universe. Thus, no matter where a galaxy lies within the cosmic horizon, we would resolve the scale at which the formation and evolution of galaxies becomes the study of their smallest constituent building blocks—their star-forming regions and dwarf satellites. Within the Milky Way, a 12 m telescope would resolve the distance between the Earth and the Sun for any star in the Solar neighborhood, and resolve 100 AU anywhere in the Galaxy. Within our own Solar System, we would resolve structures the size of Manhattan out at the orbit of Jupiter
Nextbigfuture – Large baselines will be required in the future to perform direct imaging and, in some cases, spectroscopic observations of exoplanets. Therefore, astronomers will inevitably be led to design large interferometers, even at short visible wavelengths.
If around 2020–2030 we have found a promising biomarker candidate on a nearby planet [for instance, around Proxima Centauri, such a discovery would trigger two kinds of projects:
Direct visualization of living organisms. To detect directly the shape of an organism 10 meters in length and width, a spatial resolution of 1 meter would be required.
Even on the putative closest exoplanet, Proxima Centauri A=B b, the required baseline would be at 600 nm B ¼ 600,000 km (almost the Sun’s radius). In reflected light, the required collecting area to obtain 1 photon per year in reflected light is equivalent to a single aperture of B ¼ 100 km. In addition, if this organism is moving with a speed of 1 cm s 1, it would have to be detected in less than 1000 s. To get a detection in 20 minutes with a S=N of 5, the collecting area would correspond to an aperture B ¼ 3 million km. Laser-trapped mirrors and other hypertelescope designs could make massive optical astronomy possible.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
Known for identifying cutting edge technologies, he is currently a Co-Founder of a startup and fundraiser for high potential early-stage companies. He is the Head of Research for Allocations for deep technology investments and an Angel Investor at Space Angels.
A frequent speaker at corporations, he has been a TEDx speaker, a Singularity University speaker and guest at numerous interviews for radio and podcasts. He is open to public speaking and advising engagements.