Scientists are searching for strange artifacts across the solar system. Here’s why: ScienceAlert

Do aliens exist? Certainly. The universe is vast and ancient, and our corner of it is not particularly special. If life appeared here, it probably appeared elsewhere.

Keep in mind that this is a very broad assumption. All it takes would be to say, “Yes, there are aliens!” …if we can find them somehow.

ET wiretapping

Until we can send paleontologists to other galaxies, the best way to search for aliens is to stay home and look for “technical signatures.”

What are they exactly? Honestly, we don’t know, but we can make some good assumptions. For example, when we use radios to communicate, we produce signals that are very different from the normal kind of energy you get from a star.

It’s reasonable to assume that aliens would do the same in their communications, so we’re mainly looking for abnormal-looking radio signals from distant fixed points in space.

The electromagnetic spectrum consists of all the frequencies of radiation that travel through space. (NASA’s Space Communications and Navigation (SCaN) Program)

Wireless sensing, or any scientific attempt to detect non-human technical signatures, can be referred to as the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI). SETI efforts are generally led by organizations such as the SETI Institute and Breakthrough Listen. Citizen scientists play a key role in analyzing data as it is collected and sometimes making their own follow-up notes about potential discoveries.

So far, several candidates have been revealed, but none have been confirmed.

This is not surprising because the universe is vast and ancient. It is a question of sample size. As Jill Tarter explained, if you collect a glass of ocean water and look it up for fish, you probably won’t find any. As the time we spend researching and technology improves, our odds of discovery improve.

Are aliens nearby?

Probably not, for the same reason that the universe is so vast and ancient. It takes more technology than the Earth needs to travel through more resources than it takes our entire solar system to get here.

SETI can be performed from home by detecting radio, optical, and gravitational waves. Messages can be exchanged between civilizations with the same technology. Because of tourism, there’s not much reason to make the trip. Should we check, though? surely! Even if we don’t find aliens, who knows what else we can learn through research?

Our first challenge here is to determine the size of the solar system. Neptune orbits the Sun at an average distance of 30 AU. The Oort cloud may extend up to 100,000 AU from the sun. The difference factor in search volume is more than 37 billion.

By comparison, if you were tasked with finding an alien in New York and forgot to ask “a city or a state?” The diff factor in the search area will only be 180.

The next big challenge is stealth – a special case of the Fermi Paradox. If they were here, it didn’t look like the aliens were trying very hard to salute. Whether it’s because their artifacts are inactive, their sensors are inactive, or their technology is undetectable by us – or they aren’t there – remains to be seen.

This mystery is found in the dramatic essence of the second act of most submarine movies, but at least in those movies, you know the other guys are out there. So either we send Sean Connery out there to have the aliens give us a ping, or just one ping, or…

Galileo Project

Founded in July 2021 by Avi Loeb and Frank Luken of Harvard University, Project Galileo is the first scientific research program to search for astronomical artifacts near Earth. They mostly use the term Extraterrestrial Technological Civilizations (ETCs) instead of ETI – basically the same thing but without judging alien intelligence by human standards.

Galileo’s team has been very consistent in rationalizing the discourse about visiting aliens. For example, the project has publicly committed to testing only “known physics” hypotheses and analyzing only new data.

The project is considered “outcome-neutral,” meaning that its sole objective is to collect and analyze data in a reliable and repeatable manner, and to share the data and its testable conclusions publicly. To science, this is all normal and expected, but for anyone with a real curiosity about ancient aliens, Galileo’s Project is a much-needed breath of fresh air.

The Galileo project consists of three main experimental tracks:

  1. Photography unknown weather phenomena (UAP) in the infrared, radio, optical and audio data recording bands. The team designed, built and deployed their own monitoring and AI equipment to collect and interpret this data (shown below). At the time of writing, the toolkit for calibration and testing has been published and will be redeployed for full operation in the next few months.

    Artist representation of Galileo Observatory
    UAP’s All-sky Galileo Observatory (courtesy of project leader Avi Loeb)
  2. An encounter with future InterStellar Objects (ISOs) transiting the Solar System like Oumuamua and 2I/Borisov, with an estimated project budget of just over $1 billion, or about a quarter of the launch price of a single SLS.
  3. Recovering fragments of interstellar objects colliding with Earth, such as CNEOS 2014-01-08 that collided off the coast of Papua New Guinea. At the time of writing, an expedition has just been fully funded, and production of specialized machines has begun.
  4. Searching for small satellites orbiting the Earth with the Vera C. Rubin Observatory when it comes online in 2023. This will require the development of new advanced software to detect potentially very small, fast-moving objects, likely in irregular orbits. AI will also scan data from man-made satellites for nearby alien technical signatures.

Focusing on physical artifacts is a new strategy at SETI, but Loeb and Lucian are optimistic. They noted that artifacts are necessarily less transient than radio signals.

While detecting an object may technically be more difficult than detecting a signal, the object will not have to repeat itself in some way if it missed it the first time. Also unlike light, most physical objects in our galaxy are gravitationally bound to it. This makes detection less important in relation to time than to a physical object.

# StartupLife

Like all SETI efforts, Project Galileo must do the best it can with what it has. In its current state, the project was unable to detect a magnetic anomaly on the Moon’s surface, let alone a time capsule left for humanity on Planet X. (In fairness Planet X has yet to be discovered, it was only predicted). Those already in place represent three cost-effective ways to investigate three reasonable sets of assumptions about what alien visits might look like.

In sum, as Loeb wrote, “the lack of ‘extraordinary evidence’ is often ignorance of its own.” Galileo’s project does not investigate such trivial matters as black swans or square trees; It impartially poses one of humanity’s fundamental questions in a new way. “Are we alone?” Well, let’s start with a backyard check.

Want to be among the first to find out when Project Galileo is making an interesting discovery? Head to Twitter and follow Tweet embed. Next, make sure you follow Hahahaha. Based on Seth Shostak’s account of discovering a filter radio in 1997, there’s a good chance you’ll hear about it before your head of state!

This article was originally published by Universe Today. Read the original article.

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