No signals from newest Kepler planet

No Signals from Newest Kepler Planet
Credit: Harvard-Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory

A newly discovered planet has been observed with the Allen Telescope Array in a search for radio signals that would betray technically sophisticated inhabitants, but no transmissions have been detected.

The planet is known as Kepler 116454b, and orbits an orange dwarf star in the constellation Pisces. It is 180 light-years away.

Jon Richards, of the SETI Institute's Center for SETI Research, used the Allen Telescope Array to look for signals over the of 1000 – 2250 MHz.

In May, 2013 the Kepler space telescope suffered a mechanical failure that ended its ability to accurately aim at the sky. But the telescope has resumed its search for planets in a new mode, using the pressure of sunlight to help it steady its gaze on the sky. Kepler 116454b is the first planet to be found by the reincarnated telescope, and its discovery was announced just before Christmas.

The planet orbits its home star in 9 days in an orbit three times smaller than Mercury's orbit around the Sun. Consequently, temperatures on this world – which is a so-called "super Earth" and larger than Earth but smaller than Neptune – are expected to be too hot for life as we know it.

Nonetheless, and as centuries of experience have shown, observation sometimes trumps expectation, and that is why new exoplanets – whether they seem promising for life or not – are routinely observed by the SETI Institute with the Allen Telescope Array.

The observations of Kepler 116454b will continue at higher frequencies, Richards notes.


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Jan 07, 2015
To be fair, even if there was a civilization there listening to us, at 180 light years, they wouldn't hear anything either.

Jan 07, 2015
Kepler is pointing the wrong way, the way from where we were, in this journey through the galactic plane, rather than the way that we are proceeding. If Kepler were pointing ahead of us, then it is more probable that the Allen Telescope Array would detect the signals that point to intelligent life.

Who made the decision to explore that small region of the galaxy, and what were the rationalizations for this decision?

Jan 07, 2015
Who made the decision to explore that small region of the galaxy, and what were the rationalizations for this decision?


Well Skippy, since I am not on the payroll of the SETI-Skippy place I probably can not say with any certainment. But I would guess that one of SETI-Skippys who run the SETI stuffs made the decision about where to look. It's their equipment, so I suppose they decide how to use it. How do you use your Allen telescope, maybe you already got the good spots and they are listening to the leftovers? I don't have one so I don't know if you are using your's better than they are using theirs.

And I will go way out on the limb here with another guess, I'm thinking the rationalizing has something to do with SETI-scientist-Skippy stuffs like what it is and where it is and it's easy to listen to the radio from there.

Your turn Skippy. Care to make the guess?

Jan 07, 2015
I think it's the ET's in charge of all that hi-tech Skippy stuff that wouldn't exist if they weren't walking all over us and making that stuff happen deliberately sending us down the wrong path.

Jan 08, 2015
Given the world and time and tech we have not discovered, it is altogether possible that we could in fact hear something. Some sci folks have said that signals of typical television broadcast strength for the last fifty years, about 100(10^3)Watts, may 'peter out' in as few as 20LY. However more sensitive detectors like spaced based super large arrays hundreds of km wide would likely see much more. Anyway, our planet is 4.3BYrs old and so far as we know its current sentient species has been an e.m. emitter for less than 130 years, not that earth has not had 'other sentient children' in the remote past whose archaeological and/or geological record is either officially denied or not discovered (unexplained anomalies DO exist like 500MYA old shoe prints found in in-situ rock strata). Point is we are already hiding our signal from outsiders which is why we digitize and cable-ize our e.m. signals now. We also have only sent 1GHz+ signals for less than 30 yrs and those of low power.

Jan 08, 2015
I think it's the ET's in charge of all that hi-tech Skippy stuff that wouldn't exist if they weren't walking all over us and making that stuff happen deliberately sending us down the wrong path.

Ahhh,,,, The eternal conspiracy theory gambit...

Jan 12, 2015
I am pretty sure pond scum life is as common in the Universe as flowing water. Complex, intelligent life, with the technology to be apparent beyond their own solar system will be extremely rare if for no other reason than deep time. The human race has arguably been on earth for 200,000 years with about 150 years of what might be considered emitting technology. Given that all life eventually becomes extinct, the odds of significant time overlap between any two civilizations is remote, if not fully impossible.

Jan 12, 2015
Kepler is pointing the wrong way, the way from where we were, in this journey through the galactic plane, rather than the way that we are proceeding. If Kepler were pointing ahead of us, then it is more probable that the Allen Telescope Array would detect the signals that point to intelligent life.

Why would that be? Wouldn't it be more probable to point at center of the galaxy where there is a ton more potential targets?
And as Ira said - they can point it wherever they want since they're footing the bill...

Jan 12, 2015
Given that all life eventually becomes extinct

That only goes for life that
a) is at the mercy of its local environment
b) does not go about altering iteslf into a more permanent/robust form

Currently we're still at the stage where a) and b) apply. But there's a number of people thinking hard on how to change that.

I think it's the ET's in charge of all that hi-tech Skippy stuff that wouldn't exist if they weren't walking all over us and making that stuff happen deliberately sending us down the wrong path.

And the reason you came up with that thought is...? What exactly makes you think there is a 'wrong path' (and what is wrong about it?)

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