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Search For Extraterrestrial Life Continues -
UK Astronomers Will Jointly Look For Alien Signals

6 July 2013

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MessageToEagle.com - British academics from 11 institutions have set up a network to co-ordinate their Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (Seti).

The network's Patron is the Astronomer Royal, Professor Martin Rees and UKSRN (The UK SETI Research Network) will present current activity and consider future strategy in a session and panel discussion at the National Astronomy Meeting in St Andrews on Friday 5 July.

Scientists will look for alien life among the stars and their research topics include potential methods for detecting signals, the linguistic challenge of deciphering messages, the probability of an extraterrestrial civilization interacting with Earth and the longevity of civilizations.



Click on image to enlarge

The constellation of Orion is visible to the left of the Lovell Telescope at Jodrell Bank. Betelgeuse is the star at the top left of Orion. The inset shows the new e-MERLIN image of Betelgeuse. Credit: University of Manchester, Anthony Holloway.


"We hope that the existence of the network will excite interest from people in the UK astronomical community that have been thinking about SETI and encourage them to contribute their work. In this session at NAM, we are presenting the whole range of UK SETI activities to the community and hope that it will promote a wider understanding of, and activity in, this subject," Dr Alan Penny, the coordinator of UKSRN said.

Dr Tim O'Brien from The University of Manchester's Jodrell Bank Observatory will describe the capability of the UK's recently commissioned e-MERLIN array of seven radio telescopes for SETI projects and the equipment's immense power.

The e-MERLIN array, which includes the Lovell Telescope, is connected by optical fibres and spread over 217 km from Jodrell Bank to Cambridge.

This multi-telescope approach offers potential for distinguishing true extraterrestrial signals from interference generated here on Earth, a key problem for all radio SETI projects.

The first proposal to search for radio signals from extraterrestrial civilisations was actually inspired by the construction of the Lovell Telescope at Jodrell Bank," said O'Brien.



"We went on to take part in the SETI Institute's Project Phoenix from 1998 to 2003, searching for signals from about a thousand nearby stars. At that time the equipment required to sift through the data was expensive and unusual, but our modern telescopes are potentially capable of conducting these type of observations as a matter of course."

"It's early days for this new SETI work at Jodrell but we think that using e-MERLIN, and future facilities such as the Square Kilometre Array, we could make an important contribution to the search for intelligent life elsewhere in the Universe," O'Brien said.

"There are billions of planets out there. It would be remiss of us not to at least have half an ear open to any signals that might be being sent to us," he added.

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See also:
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