ET Interest from Around the World

When ET phones Earth, will s/he speak to an American? The United States is not the only country in the world with an active search for extraterrestrial (ET) intelligence. The search for extra-solar planets is not a local passion. An exo-solar planet is a planets not in our solar system.

Chinese astronomers installed the first of three Antarctic Survey Telescopes (AST3-1) at Dome Argus, located at the highest elevation on the Antarctic continent, at the beginning of 2012. One of its primary missions is to search for extra-solar planets suitable for life.

Dome A may be the best place on Earth to gaze at the Universe, says Wang. At 4,093 meters above sea level, Dome A has an extremely thin and stable atmosphere, and the pressure is only half that at sea level. The extreme cold — temperatures can drop to –80 °C — makes the air very dry and reduces background radiation when observing in the infrared. There is almost no air pollution and the long winter nights allow for four months of uninterrupted observation.

According to Lifan Wang, an astronomer at Texas A&M University in College Station, and director of the Chinese Centre for Antarctic Astronomy in Nanjing: “Antarctica has the best conditions on Earth for astronomical observation, as it has very flat ground, a transparent atmosphere and little turbulence. The ground-based telescopes here will bring us precious information from the universe.” “We will send people there to retrieve observation data. I hope we can find some likely candidates. It’s hard to say precisely how many, but I hope there are no less than 10,” Wang said. “So far, humans have yet to find an exact twin of the Earth. (Chinese Astronomers Search for Alien Life, 2013)”

The Huffington Post reported that one group of UFO believers have packed their bags, tents, photo and video cameras and are on a cross-country trek in Russia, hoping to capture photographic evidence of possible alien activity. Dubbed the “Trans-Eurasian UFO-Search Expedition,” the 50 participants have been watching the skies above the southern tip of Lake Baikal, the world’s oldest and deepest fresh water lake, located in southern Siberia (UFO Hunters Search For Aliens In 2-Month Expedition Across Russia, 2012).

Reuters has reported that in the next decade we will see two record-breaking telescopes come on line; the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), a huge radio telescope sited in South Africa and Australia, and Europe’s Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) that will sit on a mountain top in Chile’s Atacama desert and be the largest optical telescope ever built.

Their main task will be to probe the origins and nature of galaxies, but they will also look for signs of life on planets that can now only be seen in the roughest detail.

“I think the capabilities of new telescopes means that the detection of an ETI (extraterrestrial intelligence) is more likely in the next few decades, than it was in the last,” said Mike Garrett, general director of Astron, the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy (Search for alien life about to step up a gear, 2012).

If we ever detect signs of intelligent alien life, the people likely to be on the receiving end of a cosmic signal are the scientists of SETI, aka Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence. This loose band of a couple of dozen researchers around the world doggedly listens to the cosmos in the hope of catching alien communications. It’s often in the face of scant funding and even ridicule (Alien hunters: What if ET ever phones our home?, 2012).

They watch signals coming from the world’s largest radio telescopes, looking for anything unusual, or even the flashes of laser “lighthouses” designed to catch our attention.
SETI started as one man using one telescope dish in 1959. Today computers are used to sift through the cosmic radio traffic, flagging up to astronomers any potential calls from extraterrestrial life (Welcome to the SETI Institute, 2013).
You could be the one who helps contact ET. You can join in on the search without leaving home. You don’t have to live in America or near any scientific institute. You can join SETI@Home and use your computer to join other computers sifting through the “noise” from outer space, looking for the signals from an intelligent lifeform (What is SETI@Home?, 2013).

Works Cited
Alien hunters: What if ET ever phones our home? (2012, January 15). Retrieved May 25, 2013, from BBC News: Science and Environment:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-16273512

Search for alien life about to step up a gear. (2012, October 18). Retrieved May 25, 2013, from Reuters:http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/10/18/us-science-newplanet-aliens-idUSBRE89H16H20121018

UFO Hunters Search For Aliens In 2-Month Expedition Across Russia. (2012, August 7). Retrieved May 25, 2013, from Huffington Post Wierd News:http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/07/russia-ufo-hunters-seek-aliens_n_1739854.html

Chinese Astronomers Search for Alien Life. (2013, May 23). Retrieved May 25, 2013, from The Daily Galaxy:http://www.dailygalaxy.com/my_weblog/2013/05/chinese-astronomers-search-for-twin-earth-.html

Welcome to the SETI Institute. (2013). Retrieved from SETI Institute: http://www.seti.org/

What is SETI@Home? (2013). Retrieved from SETI@Home:http://setiathome.berkeley.edu/