Technology Astronomers to sweep entire sky for signs of extraterrestrial life

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Astronomers will sweep the entire sky for signs of extraterrestrial life for the first time, using 28 giant radio telescopes in an unprecedented hunt for alien civilisations.

The project is a collaboration between the privately-funded Seti Institute and the Very Large Array observatory in New Mexico, one of the world’s most powerful radio observatories. Gaining real-time access to all the data gathered by VLA is considered a major coup for scientists hunting extraterrestrial lifeforms and an indication that the field has “gone mainstream”.

Normal astronomy operations will continue at the VLA, which was featured in the 1997 film Contact, but under the new arrangement all data will be duplicated and fed through a dedicated supercomputer that will search for beeps, squawks or other signatures of distant technology.

“The VLA is being used for an all-sky survey and we kind of go along for the ride,” said Andrew Siemion, director of the Berkeley Seti centre. “It allows us to in parallel conduct a Seti survey.

“Determining whether we are alone in the universe as technologically capable life is among the most compelling questions in science, and [our] telescopes can play a major role in answering it,” said Tony Beasley, director of The National Radio Astronomy Observatory, which runs the VLA.

The first phase of the project, installing new cables, has been funded by John Giannandrea, a senior Apple executive and trustee of the Seti Institute, and Carol Giannandrea.


Read more here. (The Guardian UK)
 
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