New Study Suggests Using 'Porch Light' Laser Setup to Call Extraterrestrials

Tuesday, 06 November 2018 - 1:39PM
Technology
Alien Life
Tuesday, 06 November 2018 - 1:39PM
New Study Suggests Using 'Porch Light' Laser Setup to Call Extraterrestrials
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Composite from Pixabay
Guys, we've been going about it all wrong. Despite decades of sending signals, probes, and satellites into space in search of extraterrestrial life, we have still not (officially) made contact. In a new study published in The Astrophysical Journal, MIT grad student James Clark proposed something that just might work to get those little grey dudes' attention. By using existing megawatt-class laser technology focused through a telescope and beamed into space, Clark argues that if aliens are scanning the Milky Way from around Proxima Centauri or TRAPPIST-1, they would be able to distinguish between the infrared signal and the energy of the sun. 

"If we were to successfully close a handshake and start to communicate, we could flash a message, at a data rate of about a few hundred bits per second, which would get there in just a few years," Clark said. In exploring the possibility, Clark had to find a laser and telescope combination that would be powerful enough to create a signal that could be detected 20,000 light years away. According to his calculations, a 2-megawatt laser paired with a 30-meter telescope would do the trick, as would a 1-megawatt laser paired with a 45-meter telescope. While the tech does already exist, building the setup and sending signals that powerful would be risky and potentially hazardous to those nearby. "If you wanted to build this thing on the far side of the moon where no one's living or orbiting much, then that could be a safer place for it," the researcher noted, adding that this exercise was more of a "feasibility study" and not a formal proposal.

Clark says that if the tables were turned, we would be able to detect a signal sent from nearby stars but only if our telescopes were pointed directly towards the source, which would take an immense amount of luck. "However," he added, "as the infrared spectra of exoplanets are studied for traces of gases that indicate the viability of life, and as full-sky surveys attain greater coverage and become more rapid, we can be more certain that, if E.T. is phoning, we will detect it." 

Let's just hope that the call is a friendly one.
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