Hey! What if someone's out there?
- Till 1820, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) was limited to the belief that massive displays on earth would be seen as communications to alien life.
- In 1959, SETI efforts took a proper turn when Frank Drake began a project which scanned the two nearest sun-like stars with a radio telescope.
- Though nothing conclusive was found, this was the starting point for future projects.
SETI takes off with NASA's help
- With Drake's ambitious though failed effort, the first projects took off.
- Most projects had little funding, but in 1992, SETI was given funding by NASA, which led to the Microwave Observing Project, which searched more of the cosmos, faster than before.
- Most current SETI projects use powerful receivers to listen on various channels and telescopes to determine conditions and new planets.
The NASA roadmap to finding aliens
- NASA believes that signs of alien life should be found in 20 years.
- We already know more about new planets than before.
- Efforts include sophisticated telescopes that will search for planets like earth, which hold the possibility of life forms.
- The telescopes would help determine whether these planets had atmosphere, like water vapour and atmospheric chemicals, which could mean that life may exist.
Slicing through the cosmos, the infrared way
- Infrared light, which can cut across cosmic spaces, has been realised as the best way to communicate with possible alien life forms.
- Called NIRO-SETI, this new instrument could supply answers to the question of whether we are alone or atleast discover new phenomena.
- Another project called METI will use radio messaging to reach out to parts of the universe, hoping for a reply.
NASA launches new initiative to discover alien life
- A new project, termed NExSS, was announced by NASA, which would further the hunt for alien life.
- This project would bring together scientists from various disciplines and teams from various universities to help understand the life that might have developed around stars.
- The intention is to search for exoplanets, or planets around stars, that have the highest possibilities of hosting alien life forms.
Why don't aliens reach out to us?
The Fermi paradox summarises the most puzzling question in the search for extraterrestrial life: If aliens exist, why haven't they contacted or visited us yet? Has intelligent life elsewhere destroyed itself? Or is trying to contact possibly higher or hostile beings out there a potentially dangerous task?
Life on Mars?
- Scientists have discovered "impact glass" on Mars, caused from meteorites crashing onto the surface of the planet and melting the surrounding rocks.
- They believe that this kind of glass could have captured and preserved traces of life on the red planet.
- This belief is strengthened because impact glass found in Antarctica from millions of years ago held traces of plant matter and organic molecules.
The search for extra-terrestrial life is fuelled
- The biggest ever search for alien life, termed "Breakthrough Initiatives", with a funding of $100 million has been launched.
- Backed by renowned physicist Stephen Hawking and Russian millionaire Yuri Milner, the project will use techniques and resources like concentrated-computer power, a listening program and SETI.
- Scientists believe that the possibility of life beyond our world exists and it is vital to know for sure.