NASA is expanding their search for extraterrestrial life with an a wave of upcoming SETI initiatives in the most sensitive, comprehensive and intensive searches for advanced life ever attempted.
SETI has partnered with the Breakthrough Listen project, funded by billionaire Yuri Milner to scan thousands of stars for brief dips in light that happen when planets transit their host, allowing us to obtain detailed information through ‘light curves,’ expanding the number of target planets that could be host life.
In a related effort, SETI and the VLA (Very Large Array) are teaming up to sweep the entire sky for signs of extraterrestrial life for the first time, using 28 giant radio telescopes in an unprecedented hunt for intelligent civilizations.
Among the most promising systems is Trappist-1, with three Earth sized planets orbiting a cool dim star with atmospheres temperate enough for liquid water to be present on the surface.
The James Webb Telescope will also join the effort and tell us whether these planets have atmospheres like the Earth or Venus, in 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, (said Meadows.)
“We’re looking forward to working together as we try to answer one of the most profound questions about our place in the Universe: Are we alone?”
As the latest technology advances bring scientists closer to answering this question, there’s still a few things to work out if we do contact ET.
Stephen Hawking was openly against the the idea, suggesting the outcome for humans would not necessarily be good.
Andrew Siemion, director of the Berkeley SETI centre disagrees, stating - “Personally I think we absolutely should and I think without a doubt, we would. Part of being human is wanting to reach out into the unknown and make connections.”
He is less decisive about what Earth’s message should be, however. “I don’t know … I spend absolutely zero time thinking about that,” he said. “I guess I would just say, ‘Hello’.”
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