SETI Astronomer Envisions Technology Capable of Receiving ET Signals by 2032

Nov 14, 2008 by Mary Anne Simpson weblog
ATA Hat Creek, California - Credit: SITI

(PhysOrg.com) -- SETI, (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Senior Astronomer Seth Shostak and host of the weekly radio show "Are We Alone," predicted during a recent conference in San Francisco that "We'll find ET within two-dozen years", according to CNET News staffer Daniel Terdiman.

The prediction is based on a few qualifiers. The first is the assumption made by researchers within SITI that the power, range and speed of the Allen Telescope Array with 42 radio camera dishes currently on line and a projected total of 350 dishes will evolve into new technologies capable of distances and speed unfathomable presently. Secondly, an obvious component is necessary funding for evolving technologies.

The current Allen Telescope Array , (ATA) was made possible by Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft making a $25-million donation to SETI. Mr Allen flipped the go- switch in 2007 for the initial 42 radio-camera dishes phase. Since that time ATA has produced amazing images, including atomic hydrogen disposition, heretofore stifled by a lack of exactitude. The completed project will include a total of 350 separate dishes and collectively may act as one virtual dish spanning 2700 miles across. Further funding for ATA is critically needed.

Jill Tarter an astronomer and Director of the Center for SETI Research refers to mankind´s search for extraterrestrial intelligence as a "Cosmic Needle-In-A-Haystack." Her work in the field spans 40-years and includes the Project Phoenix.

Director Jill Tarter believes based on the current evidence that we are currently in the early phase of discovery of extraterrestrial intelligence in the universe. Tarter was drawn into the field over 40-years ago by the work of Frank Drake an astronomer who created a mathematical equation which factored in a series of variables critical for life as we know it. He concluded that given his mathematical model there is a strong likelihood that somewhere in the cosmos there is life and we on Earth are not alone.

ATA´s current capability is about 1,000 stars that can be viewed simultaneously. The next decade will allow researchers to view up to a million stars at once. According to Dr. Shostak the current Allan Telescope Array can capture millions of frequencies. Researchers work seven days per week in shifts covering 24-hours a day.

The radio frequency room houses advanced fiber optics and equipment which allows researchers to monitor 100-million channels with the capability to move up to an additional 100-million channels. According to Shostak, We know technology, by virtue of Moore's Law, will continue to increase exponentially and may within a decade make obsolete the capacity of the massive Allen Telescope Array.

Since the inception of the radio over 100-years ago, Earth has been leaking radio frequencies upward into the universe light years away. The scope, speed and range of ATA and yet to be developed technologies can boost Earth´s capacity way beyond this infant stage. The new technologies are referred to as a SITI hot rod with the ability to view millions of stars simultaneously mega-light years away from Earth.

For further reading on the subject check out: www.seti.org/Page.aspx?pid=904

© 2008 PhysOrg.com

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User comments : 12

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GrayMouser
1.9 / 5 (16) Nov 14, 2008
Based on past performance I would expect the chance is exactly zero.
Arkaleus
4.4 / 5 (7) Nov 14, 2008
I wonder if SETI might benefit by looking at other wavelengths, such as IR or visible light. Our optics may soon be able to resolve spectrum data from planets around other stars to the resolution required to determine if artifical lights are present. It may be that high energy light sources from a distant civilizations are more common than radio emissions.

I along with many others feel we need an extremely aggressive space-based telescope program that allows us to make an advanced optical survey of our stellar neighborhood.

Imagine the effect of finding a earth-type world within 15 light years of earth! The rush to develop the engine technology needed to get there would become more of a priority. Nothing like an interstellar land rush!
Modernmystic
1.5 / 5 (13) Nov 14, 2008
How many times have we heard this.
gmurphy
3.7 / 5 (3) Nov 14, 2008
When cassini was relaying telemetry for the huygens probe, the entire deep space radio network was needed to pick up the signal. Our most powerful radio recievers were needed to pick up this communication from within our own solar system. Its hardly surprising that its so difficult to hear from anything many light years away. Nonetheless, a worthy and important exercise.
holmstar
4.5 / 5 (4) Nov 14, 2008
meh. it's rather likely that aliens would use compressed digital signals, which would be darn near impossible to separate from noise without knowing what to look for. Plus, said aliens would have to blast the signal at high power directly at the earth for us to have a chance in heck of receiving it. Personally I don't think its going to happen.
Doug_Huffman
2 / 5 (1) Nov 14, 2008
Engine technology for 15 ly won't be enough. A power source will be needed too. And an education system that will obviate such solipsisms.
dan42day
2 / 5 (1) Nov 15, 2008
Just a thought, but the so called "spooky action at a distance" observed as quantum entanglement hints at what may be a much more efficient means of communications than electromagnetic radiation constrained by the speed of light. Since we are already aware of this phenomena, it stands to reason that a slightly more advanced civilization might understands the mechanics of it. If so, the period during which they bother sending out high energy EM signals for communications could be as little as a couple of centuries or less. While I applaud the efforts of SETI, I suspect that we are looking for smoke signals.
Nephrops110
2.5 / 5 (2) Nov 15, 2008
Who writes this stuff!!? The english is appalling and the content shows no understanding of the subject."heretofore stifled by a lack of exactitude", no-one talks like that. And Drake concluded a "strong likelihood that somewhere in the cosmos there is life". He was talking about this galaxy and about intelligent life, not about the universe (cosmos) or any old life. This is below undergrad quality, if you want it properly written, mail me.
Tachyon8491
3.8 / 5 (4) Nov 15, 2008
As long as SETI is committed to search for a signature characteristic of encoded intelligence within the classical E-mag spectrum, I fully expect the probability of positive results to be close to zero. Any advanced extraterrestrial culture will quickly have evolved beyond an E-mag technoculture. Being both limited to light-speed propagation and locality (as contrasted to quantum non-locality) such techniques will historically pass quickly in a transient developmental phase, as it should for us too. Conventional propulsion systems and E-mag-based communication techniques are not even adequate to explore and communicate within a local home solar system. SETI needs to rethink its philosophy and techniques.
NeptuneAD
4 / 5 (1) Nov 16, 2008
As painful & awkward as it may be to go through the motions, progress can only be made in two ways, either we do it step by step or an advanced civilization gives us the technical knowledge.
Yes it may all be pointless but what if it isn't, is it really worth the risk, we would probably still be in the dark ages if people didn't try to advance themselves in one way or another.
CreepyD
5 / 5 (2) Nov 17, 2008
I agree. The fact remains that there is a possibilty, no matter how small.
The other side of the coin is that this money could be much better spent in other space programs.
denijane
not rated yet Nov 24, 2008
I sincerely hope that aliens will find us before SETI finds them.
I mean, let's get real, what's the chance to get a signal from benevolent species in technological level around ours. And even if we do, what's the point! If they are around our level and on big distance, our communication won't be very meaningful.
And if they are on much lower or higher level, they are extremely unlikely to send signals the way SETI tries to catch them.

My guess is that in less than 10 years we'll have a contact.
http://tothefutur...spot.com