Crowdsourcing The Search for Alien Artifacts on the Moon
Paul Davies, a longtime SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) researcher and physicist wants to kickstart a search for alien artifacts on our moon's surface... and he believes crowdsourcing could be the answer.
Why the moon?
Davies argues that there is a good possibility that sometime in the past 4.5 billion years of the earth and moon's existence, our planet was visited at least temporarily, by some sort of intelligent life. And whether they landed on the both the earth and the moon, or just the moon, the relatively untouched lunar surface is the place where we could hypothetically find something. "On Earth, human artifacts get buried in centuries," said Davies. "On the Moon it takes millions or tens of millions of years."
How will he search?
Davies plans to begin his search with a close examination of the several thousand of high resolution images that NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) has been taking since it's launch in 2009. But in order to put the collection of images to good use, he will need to harness a human army of volunteer scanners. "In searching for artifacts, one is looking for 'something fishy'," said Davies. "But 'fishiness' requires a human decision in advance about a signature of artificiality."
Volunteers would be looking for anything out of the ordinary, with the ultimate goal of finding some sort of trace that would suggest previous lunar mining, energy generation, reconnaissance technology.
And apparently there's no problem with leaving this task to the untrained eye. In fact, according to UC Berkeley research astronomer Professor Siemion, the amateur population is exactly who we need doing this work. "Professional astronomers sometimes suffer from the tendency to discount anything other than our expected signal as instrumental noise or some kind of interference," explains Siemion. "When identifying the unexpected, the eye of an amateur citizen scientist can be just as effective, if not more so, than that of a conditioned professional" he adds.
What if nothing shows up in the LRO images?
Davies hopes that the search for traces of life on the Moon will continue past NASA's LRO images. If the Crowdsourcing project proves successful, Davies plans to branch out to other mediums. He hopes to take advantage of the state-of-the-art search software out there, like the Tomnod-type software used to search for the missing Malaysia 777 flight, or high power gravimetry magnetic search technology. "[Evidence of past] mining or quarrying could show up in gravimetry or magnetic surveys, even if an ancient mine was buried under the lunar regolith," said Davies."We could detect [alien] nuclear waste perhaps from a lunar satellite by looking for localized gamma ray sources from the lunar surface."
So if you're interested in getting your hands dirty with lunar alien hunting, we advise that you keep an eye out for the launch of this crowdsourcing project.