Archive for the ‘SETI (Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence)’ Category

Astronomers Ask Public To Help Name Pluto’s New Moons

February 14, 2013 Leave a comment

By tradition, the moons of Pluto have names associated with Hades and the underworld. Beginning today, people can vote by visiting:

Voting ends at noon EST on Monday, February 25th, 2013.

“The Greeks were great storytellers and they have given us a colorful cast of characters to work with,” said Mark Showalter, Senior Research Scientist at the Carl Sagan Center of the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California. He and the teams of astronomers who made the discoveries will select two names based on the outcome of the voting.

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Uwingu Begins Funding Research Ahead Of Schedule Via Crowd Funding: SETI Allen Telecope Array Chosen

August 30, 2012 Leave a comment

UwinguTM, LLC and the SETI Institute’s Allen Telescope Array (ATA) designed to search out extraterrestrial life, together announced today that the SETI Institute’s Allen Telescope Array’s science team will be the first project funded by Uwingu, via its crowd-sourcing IndieGoGo campaign. Uwingu will donate half of all “bonus” funds above its $75K business launch target to the ATA.

“We don’t have to wait to begin helping space research until we launch our first product, we’re starting now!” said Uwingu CEO, Dr. Alan Stern. “And I can’t overstate how proud Uwingu is to have the SETI Institute’s ATA as a beneficiary of our IndieGoGo crowd-funding campaign. SETI is one of the noblest and most important space research enterprises. We hope this will be a double-win—generating more funds available to launch our own commercial products, and more funds available to the ATA’s research teams.”

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SETI Institute’s Jill Tarter Takes Issue With Stephen Hawking, MIB3, Prometheus And Battleship

Mountain View, California –The creative minds who fill movies and TV shows with angry aliens will soon be defending their vision of these extraterrestrial antagonists at SETIcon, a public event sponsored by the SETI Institute. The Institute is known for its science-based search for radio signals that would betray the existence of intelligent beings on distant worlds. SETIcon will take place June 22 through 24 in the heart of the Silicon Valley, and will feature a celebrity banquet honoring Jill Tarter who, for the last 35 years, has led the search for extraterrestrial intelligence at the SETI Institute.

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Geoff Marcy Appointed to the Alberts Chair

December 24, 2011 Leave a comment

Astronomy professor Geoff Marcy has been appointed the next Watson and Marilyn Alberts Chair in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI). The Alberts, who have long held an interest in SETI-related research, established the chair in 1998. It is the first-ever endowed chair that supports the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. “This chair ensures that SETI research will continue to be vigorously pursued at Berkeley, inspiring future generations of scientists to advance the field,” states Watson Alberts.

“It is a great honor to be appointed to the Alberts Chair,” says Marcy, a leading astrophysicist in the detection and characterization of exoplanets. “The discovery of extrasolar planets has spawned the search for Earth-like, habitable worlds and for life in the universe. Our recent discoveries will inevitably lead us to more SETI-related work as we find increasing numbers of potentially habitable planets. It is an extremely exciting time to be in this field.”

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Allen Telescope Array Targets New Planets

December 5, 2011 Leave a comment

The Allen Telescope Array (ATA) is once again searching planetary systems for signals that would be evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence. Among its first targets are some of the exoplanet candidates recently discovered by NASA’s Kepler space telescope.

“This is a superb opportunity for SETI observations,” said Jill Tarter, the Director of the Center for SETI Research at the SETI Institute. “For the first time, we can point our telescopes at stars, and know that those stars actually host planetary systems — including at least one that begins to approximate an Earth analog in the habitable zone around its host star. That’s the type of world that might be home to a civilization capable of building radio transmitters.”

The ATA had been placed in hibernation mode last April as the result of the withdrawal of the SETI Institute’s former partner, U.C. Berkeley, due to budgetary shortfalls. Berkeley was the operator of the Hat Creek Observatory in northern California where the ATA is located. With new funding recently acquired for observatory operations, the ATA can resume SETI observations where it left off: examining the thousands of new candidate planets found by Kepler. Highest priority will be given to the handful of worlds discovered so far that are located in their star’s habitable zone: the range of orbital radii where temperatures are neither too hot nor too cold for liquid water to exist. Most astrobiologists consider that liquid water is the sine qua non for life.

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System Proposed for Assessing Odds for Life on Other Worlds

November 23, 2011 Leave a comment

Within the next few years, the number of planets discovered in orbits around distant stars will likely reach several thousand or more. But even as our list of these newly discovered “exoplanets” grows ever-longer, the search for life beyond our solar system will likely focus much more narrowly on the relatively few of these new worlds which exhibit the most Earth-like of conditions.
For much of the scientific community, thesearch for alien life has long been dominated by the notion that our own planet serves as the best model of conditions best suited to the emergence of life on other worlds. And while there’s an undeniable logic to seeking life in the same sort of conditions in which you already know it to be successful, there are scientists like Dirk Schulze-Makuch, an astrobiologist with the Washington State University School of Earth and Environmental Sciences and Abel Mendez, a modeling expert from the University of Puerto Rico at Aricebo, who also see such a model as the product of a potentially limiting form of earthling-biased thinking.
To Schulze-Makuch and his nine fellow authors – an international working group representing, NASA, SETI,the German Aerospace Center, and four universities– the search for life on other worlds is really driven by two questions.

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City Lights Could Reveal E.T. Civilization

November 7, 2011 Leave a comment

Credit: David A. Aguilar (CfA)

Credit: David A. Aguilar (CfA)

In the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, astronomers have hunted for radio signals and ultra-short laser pulses. In a new paper, Avi Loeb (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics) and Edwin Turner (Princeton University) suggest a new technique for finding aliens: look for their city lights. “Looking for alien cities would be a long shot, but wouldn’t require extra resources. And if we succeed, it would change our perception of our place in the universe,” said Loeb.

As with other SETI methods, they rely on the assumption that aliens would use Earth-like technologies. This is reasonable because any intelligent life that evolved in the light from its nearest star is likely to have artificial illumination that switches on during the hours of darkness.

How easy would it be to spot a city on a distant planet? Clearly, this light will have to be distinguished from the glare from the parent star. Loeb and Turner suggest looking at the change in light from an exoplanet as it moves around its star.

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‘Sweet Spot’ for Formation of Organic Molecules in Galaxy

November 3, 2011 Leave a comment

Scientists within the New York Center for Astrobiology at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have compiled years of research to help locate areas in outer space that have extreme potential for complex organic molecule formation. The scientists searched for methanol, a key ingredient in the synthesis of organic molecules that could lead to life. Their results have implications for determining the origins of molecules that spark life in the cosmos.

The findings will be published in the Nov. 20 edition of The Astrophysical Journal in a paper titled “Observational constraints on methanol production in interstellar and preplanetary ices.” The work is collaboration between researchers at Rensselaer, NASA Ames Research Center, the SETI Institute, and Ohio State University.

“Methanol formation is the major chemical pathway to complex organic molecules in interstellar space,” said the lead researcher of the study and director of the NASA-funded center, Douglas Whittet of Rensselaer. If scientists can identify regions where conditions are right for rich methanol production, they will be better able to understand where and how the complex organic molecules needed to create life are formed. In other words, follow the methanol and you may be able to follow the chemistry that leads to life.

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