Tech

Here’s how tiny lasers could help us find alien life

For YEARS, researchers have used radios to try and detect extraterrestrial life – but now scientists have turned to lasers in the hope of finding aliens.

Last year, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Foundation announced a program called LaserSETI that aims to detect potential laser pulses originating from outside the solar system.

Researchers at SETI are trying out a laser approach to detect alien life

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Researchers at SETI are trying out a laser approach to detect alien life

However, to achieve this goal, SETI needs to build a network of devices to monitor the entire night sky.

And in late December 2021, scientists finally completed the installation of a second instrument featuring the expensive lens-camera-computer combo at the Haleakala Observatory, perched atop a mountain in Maui, Hawaii.

This new tool is unprecedented when it comes to searching for extraterrestrial life, as for seven decades researchers have relied mainly on stray radio waves that can only scan a tiny fraction of the sky (and also a tiny fraction of the sky). not for a long time).

“Light messaging has a fundamental advantage over radio in that it can transmit more bits per second – typically one and a half times more,” the SETI researchers wrote in an official. statement.

“This increased bandwidth is one feature that makes lasers useful in communicating with extraterrestrial colonies,” the officials added.

The easting device at Haleakala will be used in conjunction with a similar westbound instrument at the Robert Ferguson Observatory in Sonoma, California.

The two devices combined can scan a 150-degree arc of the night sky more than a thousand times a second to detect laser pulses, which could be a potential sign of intelligent life.

However, while these two devices are a huge step forward in improving space exploration, several more are needed around the world to fully cover the night sky.

Eliot Gillum, principal investigator of the LaserSETI project, told The Daily Beast: “We are trying to cover the sky all the time.

Covering the entire sky around the clock is researchers’ best bet for detecting extraterrestrial life, according to Berkeley astronomer Dan Werthimer. [can only] look at about a millionth of the sky at once. ”

“So if ET were to flash us once a day, once a month or once a year, we would be very lucky to detect the flash with a telescope that can only examine a portion of it. small of the sky,” Werthimer added.

The Haleakala Observatory, located in Maui, Hawaii, is home to the new LaserSETI instrument.

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The Haleakala Observatory, located in Maui, Hawaii, is home to the new LaserSETI instrument.Credit: Getty
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https://www.thesun.co.uk/tech/17341124/tiny-lasers-alien-life/ Here’s how tiny lasers could help us find alien life

Caroline Bleakley

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