After the recent discovery of an Earth-like planet, about 1,400 light years away, scientists and investors are now keen to search for alien life in outer space. China is reportedly building a world’s largest telescope, and a Russian billionaire Yuri Milner has donated $100 million last week to Search Extraterrestrial Institute (SETI), an organization dedicated to search for alien life.
SETI’s Active SETI aims to send messages into outer space, in a bid to communicate with extraterrestrial life. Researchers are hopeful to send a swift and confident message, if they pick up a signal or message from outer space. Milner has also provided a ten-year donation to the Breakthrough Listen Project at the University of California, Berkeley. The project is in partnership with two of the world’s biggest radio telescope, and they are monitored for extraterrestrial signals.
Tony Beasley, director of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory stated that beginning early next year, approximately 20 percent of annual observing time on GBT will be dedicated to searching a staggering number of stars and galaxies for signs of intelligent life via radio signals. However, noted physicist Stephen Hawking warns against contact with extraterrestrial life, but he does encourage the efforts to find these signals. He believes that contact with extraterrestrial life might not turn out good for human life.
In an interview with RT, Yuri Milner said:
“I think it’s an important project for the whole humanity. We now have the technology, we have the capability, we have the software and hardware to really try to get to the answer to this pretty fundamental question: are we alone in the universe? And I think in the next 10 years we will be able to make significant progress, which in order of magnitude more significant than in the last 55 years.”
Researchers have mentioned that the telescopes will be compatible with other similar observatories around the world, allowing researchers to analyze the data using unique methods. Breakthrough Listen Project’s scan is about five times more than that of a radio spectrum, and is approximately 100 times faster than its previous speed.
SETI projects specifically aim for radio or optic signals from an artificial source. Milner believes that researchers could contact “water” worlds with alien life and could sustain human life if needed. Researchers have also mentioned that the idea of that searching for alien life will be worth it.
“In searches such as this, the more eyes you can get on the prize the better,” says Todd Thibodeaux, president of the tech industry association CompTIA. “Harnessing the personal interests of possibly hundreds of thousands of people makes sense and couldn’t be accomplished cost effectively any other way.”
On the other hand, China is building the world’s largest telescope in its Guizhou province, and this telescope with 500 meter reflector and 4,450 panels will be completed by 2016. When the building is completed, this telescope with 1.5km perimeter will surpass Puerto Rico’s Arecibo Observatory ‘only’ by 305 meters in diameter.
“Panels can change their positions through connected wires and parallel robots. We can control their position with an accuracy of 1 mm,” Zheng Yuanpeng, chief engineer of the telescope’s panel project, told Xinhua.
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