Scientists at the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian and the University of Rochester are collaborating on a project to search the universe for signs of life via technosignatures.
Researchers believe that although life appears in many forms, the scientific principles remain the same, and that the technosignatures identifiable on Earth will also be identifiable in some fashion outside of the solar system. “Technosignatures relate to signatures of advanced alien technologies similar to, or perhaps more sophisticated than, what we possess,” said Avi Loeb, Frank B. Baird Jr. Professor of Science at Harvard. “Such signatures might include industrial pollution of atmospheres, city lights, photovoltaic cells (solar panels), megastructures, or swarms of satellites.”
Knowing where to look for technosignatures hasn’t always been easy, making it difficult for researchers to obtain grants and a footing in mainstream astronomy. The surge of results in exoplanetary research—including planets in habitable zones and the presence of atmospheric water vapor—over the past five years has revitalized the search for intelligent life. “The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) has always faced the challenge of figuring out where to look. Which stars do you point your telescope at and look for signals?” said Adam Frank, a professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Rochester, and the primary recipient of the grant. “Now we know where to look. We have thousands of exoplanets including planets in the habitable zone where life can form. The game has changed.”
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