Tagged: Breakthrough Listen Project Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • richardmitnick 11:43 am on June 23, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Breakthrough Listen releases catalog of "Exotica" – objects of interest as 'technosignatures'", , , , , Breakthrough Listen Project, ,   

    From Breakthrough Listen Project via phys.org: “Breakthrough Listen releases catalog of “Exotica” – objects of interest as ‘technosignatures'” 

    From Breakthrough Listen Project

    via


    phys.org

    June 23, 2020
    Janet Wootten, Breakthrough Intiatives

    1
    Credit: CC0 Public Domain

    Breakthrough Listen, the initiative to find signs of intelligent life in the universe, today released an innovative catalog of “Exotica”—a diverse list of objects of potential interest to astronomers searching for technosignatures (indicators of technology developed by extraterrestrial intelligence). The catalog is a collection of over 700 distinct targets intended to include “one of everything” in the observed universe—ranging from comets to galaxies, from mundane objects to the most rare and violent celestial phenomena.

    The comprehensive new catalog is the first in recent times that aims to span the entire breadth of astrophysical phenomena, from distant galaxies to objects in our own solar system. The Listen team developed it conceptually, compiled it and shared it with the astronomical community in the hope that it can guide future surveys—studying life beyond Earth and/or natural astrophysics—and serve as a general reference guide for the field.

    “Many discoveries in astronomy were not planned,” said the lead author of the new catalog, Dr. Brian Lacki. “Sometimes, a major new discovery was missed when nobody was looking in the right place, because they believed nothing could be found there. This happened with exoplanets, which might have been detected before the 1990s if astronomers looked for solar systems very different than ours. Are we looking in the wrong places for technosignatures? The Exotica catalog will help us answer that question.”

    “The catalog is not just limited to SETI, though,” noted Lacki. “My hope is that any program with a new capability may use the Exotica catalog as a shakedown cruise around the universe.”

    The Exotica catalog contains four categories of object:

    Prototypes: a list containing at least one example of every known kind of celestial object (apart from those too transient to present realistic observation targets). Planets and moons, stars at every point of their life cycle, galaxies big and small, serene star clusters and blazing quasars, and more are all included in the list.
    Superlatives: objects with the most extreme properties. These include examples like the hottest planet, stars with unusually high or low metal content, the most distant quasar and fastest-spinning pulsar, and the densest galaxy.
    Anomalies: enigmatic targets whose behavior is currently not satisfactorily explained. For instance, the famous “Tabby’s Star” with its bizarre dimming behavior; “Oumuamua—the interstellar object that passed near Earth in 2017; unexplained optical pulses that last mere nanoseconds; and stars with excess infrared radiation that could conceivably be explained as waste heat from alien megastructures.
    A Control sample of sources not expected to produce positive results.

    Accompanying the catalog is extensive discussion of classification of objects and a new classification system for anomalies, as well as plans for upcoming and potential observations based on this work.

    The search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) has been pursued as a serious scientific program, though at times sporadically, for 60 years. In the last five years, Listen has massively increased the scope of radio (as well as optical) searches, and has developed technology, deployed at giant radio telescopes on three continents, that enables coverage of an unprecedented range of frequencies at high resolution. Most recently, Listen observed the Kepler 160 system, searching for signals from an Earthlike planet (found earlier this month) around a Sunlike star.

    Dr. Andrew Siemion, leader of the Breakthrough Listen science team at the University of California, Berkeley’s SETI Research Center (BSRC), said, “Technosignature searches to date have largely focused on the search for ‘life as we know it’: nearby stars—in particular those known to host planets with the potential for liquid water on their surfaces. The expanded search capabilities that Breakthrough Listen has made possible allow us to consider a much wider range of possible technology-laden environments.”

    As yet, however, no confirmed technosignature has been detected from any of the objects targeted by SETI searches. One explanation is, of course, that we are alone in the universe. On the other hand, in a vast cosmos it is certainly possible that astronomers have yet to look in the most promising places. The new Exotica catalog is the centerpiece of Listen’s efforts to expand the diversity of targets. The crucial principle behind it is the concept of “survey breadth,” i.e., the diversity of objects observed during a program. This should help astronomers constrain the range of potential habitats for extraterrestrial intelligence, as well as rule out the possibility that any phenomena widely considered natural are in fact artificial. Conversely, it may identify natural events, or confounding data such as interference, that mimic the kinds of artificial signal SETI researchers are on the lookout for.

    “Breakthrough Listen has already greatly expanded the breadth and depth of its search. The publication of this catalog is a new and significant step for the program,” said Yuri Milner, the founder of the Breakthrough Initiatives.

    “When it comes to the search for intelligent life, it’s vital to have an open mind,” noted S. Pete Worden, executive director of the Breakthrough Initiatives. “Until we understand more about the forms another civilization and its technology could take, we should investigate all plausible targets. Cataloging them is the first step toward that goal.”

    A preprint of the Exotica paper, along with the associated catalog and other information, is available at http://seti.berkeley.edu/exotica/

    Overview – The Breakthrough Listen Exotic Target Catalog

    Breakthrough Listen to date has largely focused on the search for “life as we know it” – including Earthlike planets around Sunlike stars such as Kepler 160. But what if extraterrestrial intelligences are not like us, but are found in the frigid reaches of the outer Solar System, the extreme gravity of neutron stars, the brilliant cores of active galaxies, or the hearts of the richest galaxy clusters? Now we’re announcing an expanded approach, targeting “one of everything” in the Universe. The new Exotica Catalog includes over 700 distinct objects. It has an example of each type in our Prototype sample, extreme objects with record-breaking properties in our Superlative sample, and lingering mysteries in our Anomaly sample. A small Control sample rounds out the list with sky locations we do not expect to be special as a comparison. With the Exotica catalog, we aim to answer many questions. Have we been looking in the wrong places? Might a few of the objects we think are natural actually be artificial? Could some natural phenomenon or problem with our instruments fool us into thinking we are looking at a signal from an intelligence? What can we learn by using the unique Breakthrough Listen backend to observe the natural world?

    The paper is available: One of Everything: The Breakthrough Listen Exotica Catalog

    Also available: The full appendices with all references

    CSV containing all the Solar System objects, excluding the unassigned/opportunistic Earth satellites: BLExoticaCatalog_20D_SolSys.csv

    Fields are: ID, plaintext name, name of primary body, ID of primary body, semimajor axis (AU), eccentricity, inclination (degrees), semimajor axis around Sun (AU), Minimum Orbital Intersection Distance (AU), mass (M_earth), Solar insolation at semimajor axis (Earth = 1), radius (km), maximum angular size (arcsec)

    CSV file containing all sidereal targets: BLExoticaCatalog_20D_Sidereal.csv

    Fields are: ID, plaintext name, name recognized by Simbad, RA (decimal), Dec (decimal), redshift, luminosity distance (pc), magnification after graviational lensing, effective luminosity distance after gravitational lensing (pc), proper motion in RA (milliarcsec/yr), proper motion in declination (milliarcsec/yr), angular size

    Download the background art seen here (Credit: Breakthrough Listen / Danielle Futselaar) available as:
    full resolution .tiflow resolution .jpgmedium resolution .jpgmedium resolution .pdf

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Listen

    Breakthrough Listen is the largest ever scientific research program aimed at finding evidence of civilizations beyond Earth. The scope and power of the search are on an unprecedented scale:

    The program includes a survey of the 1,000,000 closest stars to Earth. It scans the center of our galaxy and the entire galactic plane. Beyond the Milky Way, it listens for messages from the 100 closest galaxies to ours.

    The instruments used are among the world’s most powerful. They are 50 times more sensitive than existing telescopes dedicated to the search for intelligence.

    These are among the astronomical resources imvolved with Breakthrough Listen

    CSIRO/Parkes Observatory, located 20 kilometres north of the town of Parkes, New South Wales, Australia

    UC Observatories Lick Autmated Planet Finder, fully robotic 2.4-meter optical telescope at Lick Observatory, situated on the summit of Mount Hamilton, east of San Jose, California, USA



    GBO radio telescope, Green Bank, West Virginia, USA

    SKA SARAO Meerkat telescope(s), 90 km outside the small Northern Cape town of Carnarvon, SA

    CfA/VERITAS, a major ground-based gamma-ray observatory with an array of four 12m optical reflectors for gamma-ray astronomy in the GeV – TeV energy range. Located at Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory,Mount Hopkins, Arizona, US in AZ, USA, Altitude 2,606 m (8,550 ft)

    French NenuFAR Radio telescope

    SKA Murchison Widefield Array, Boolardy station in outback Western Australia, at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO)

    SKA LOFAR core (“superterp”) near Exloo, Netherlands

    LOFAR Sweden Radio Telescope

    Jodrell Bank Lovell Telescope

    SETI/Allen Telescope Array situated at the Hat Creek Radio Observatory, 290 miles (470 km) northeast of San Francisco, California, USA, Altitude 986 m (3,235 ft)

    The radio surveys cover 10 times more of the sky than previous programs. They also cover at least 5 times more of the radio spectrum – and do it 100 times faster. They are sensitive enough to hear a common aircraft radar transmitting to us from any of the 1000 nearest stars.

    We are also carrying out the deepest and broadest ever search for optical laser transmissions. These spectroscopic searches are 1000 times more effective at finding laser signals than ordinary visible light surveys. They could detect a 100 watt laser (the energy of a normal household bulb) from 25 trillion miles away.

    Listen combines these instruments with innovative software and data analysis techniques.

    The initiative will span 10 years and commit a total of $100,000,000.

     
  • richardmitnick 12:17 pm on April 9, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Bigger and better telescopes are probing deeper into the night sky., Breakthrough Listen Project, , OSETI or optical SETI, , Shelley Wright's (UCSD) team has drawn up a blueprint for four dedicated SETI observatories to keep constant vigil for alien laser pulses across the entire observable sky., Six decades of radio silence hasn’t stopped scientists from seeking E.T., The resurgence of SETI inquiry   

    From Science News: “New search methods are ramping up the hunt for alien intelligence” 

    From Science News

    4.8.20
    Maria Temming

    Six decades of radio silence hasn’t stopped scientists from seeking E.T.

    1
    Astronomers are enlisting new technologies in the quest to answer one of the most intriguing research questions of all: Are we alone in the universe? Credit: zhengzaishuru/iStock/Getty Images Plus

    For about a week in 1960, radio astronomer Frank Drake thought he might have discovered aliens.

    Frank Drake with his Drake Equation. Credit Frank Drake

    He had pointed the National Radio Astronomy Observatory’s new 26-meter telescope at the star Epsilon Eridani on April 8 of that year, and within minutes, the instruments went wild.

    3
    In April 1960, radio astronomer Frank Drake used a 26-meter telescope at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in West Virginia (pictured) to observe two nearby, sunlike stars for alien radio broadcasts. The observing campaign, which he dubbed Project Ozma, was the world’s first modern search for extraterrestrial intelligence.Credit: NSF, AUI, NRAO

    The telescope’s readout device, a chart recorder that used a pen to scratch out signatures of incoming signals on paper, scribbled erratically. A speaker connected to the telescope blared a train of strong pulses — just the kind of transmission expected from an intelligent sender. Drake was stunned. Could finding E.T. really be this easy?

    It wasn’t. When the telescope found the signal again several days later, a radio antenna pointed in different direction also picked up the noise. The signal wasn’t otherworldly at all; it was coming from an earthly source, like an airplane.

    Drake never picked up any interstellar broadcasts during his two months observing Epsilon Eridani and another sunlike star, Tau Ceti, with the radio telescope in West Virginia (SN: 4/30/60). But that first foray into the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, or SETI, sparked a growing field of efforts to scout out fellow intelligent creatures among the stars. And now, with recent discoveries in astronomy, new technologies and a flush of new money, SETI is in renaissance.

    “It’s really difficult to overstate how much the field has been transformed” in the last few years, says Andrew Siemion, director of the University of California, Berkeley’s SETI Research Center.

    Bigger and better telescopes are probing deeper into the night sky. Sophisticated computational tools are poring over massive datasets on increasing numbers of stars and at a wider variety of frequencies. Observatories around the world are performing regular observations as part of Breakthrough Listen — a $100 million effort funded by Russian billionaires Yuri and Julia Milner to conduct the most comprehensive search for extraterrestrials yet (SN: 7/20/15).

    Breakthrough Listen Project

    1

    UC Observatories Lick Autmated Planet Finder, fully robotic 2.4-meter optical telescope at Lick Observatory, situated on the summit of Mount Hamilton, east of San Jose, California, USA




    GBO radio telescope, Green Bank, West Virginia, USA


    CSIRO/Parkes Observatory, located 20 kilometres north of the town of Parkes, New South Wales, Australia


    SKA Meerkat telescope, 90 km outside the small Northern Cape town of Carnarvon, SA

    Newly added

    CfA/VERITAS, a major ground-based gamma-ray observatory with an array of four Čerenkov Telescopes for gamma-ray astronomy in the GeV – TeV energy range. Located at Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory,Mount Hopkins, Arizona, US in AZ, USA, Altitude 2,606 m (8,550 ft)

    So far, SETI scientists have found nothing but radio silence. Still, they are undeterred. They’ve scoured only a tiny fraction of the places E.T. could be (SN: 9/30/18). And SETI’s collective observing power will make scientists 1,000 times more likely to find E.T. during this decade than they were in the 2010s, Siemion says.

    This is, he says, “a boom time for SETI.”

    Eyes on the sky

    For decades, the hunt for intelligent aliens languished on the fringes of the scientific establishment (SN: 1/28/19), viewed by many researchers as a “strange, boutiquey sort of thing that’s not really astronomy,” says Siemion, principal investigator for Breakthrough Listen. Short-lived U.S. federal funding for the field abruptly ended in 1993, after which “SETI went underground and became very insular.”

    But SETI’s profile is changing, as our understanding of the universe evolves. Back when Drake was making his observations, we hadn’t yet laid eyes on a planet around another star. Within just the last decade, we’ve discovered thousands of exoplanets, giving new credence to arguments that life beyond Earth is entirely possible (SN: 10/4/19).

    In February, Breakthrough Listen released the largest ever stockpile of SETI observations for members of the astronomical community to analyze. The dataset, collected by the Parkes radio telescope in Australia, the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia and the Automated Planet Finder [at UC Santa Cruz Lick Observatory] in California, included a survey of radio emissions from the disk of the Milky Way and the region around its core supermassive black hole.

    “For finding very advanced civilizations, I think the galactic center is very exciting,” Siemion says. There, he speculates that some super tech-savvy aliens could have built an extremely powerful radio transmitter charged by the Milky Way’s supermassive black hole.

    To find alien civilizations working with more modest radio equipment comparable to our own, searchers look to nearby stars. That was the approach that Sofia Sheikh, an astronomer at Penn State, took in analyzing Breakthrough Listen observations of 20 of the sun’s stellar neighbors. All of those stars are in positions relative to Earth that would allow any aliens around those stars to see Earth orbiting in front of the sun — the same way that telescopes like TESS spot exoplanets (SN: 1/8/19). Those aliens might therefore be able detect Earth’s presence and target our planet with a message.

    Sheikh and colleagues came up empty in their search. “Reporting null results isn’t fun,” she says of her analysis, which was posted at arXiv.org on February 14 and submitted to the Astrophysical Journal. But it does tell other astronomers “this particular space has already been searched, go search somewhere else,” she says. Given the vast cosmic real estate where E.T. might be, checking out every little stellar neighborhood helps.

    New observatories joining the Breakthrough Listen cohort will start looking in a lot of other places in the next few years. The MeerKAT array [above] in South Africa is gearing up to survey 1 million nearby stars. The Very Large Array in New Mexico, seen in the 1997 film Contact, is getting its first SETI instrument and will start looking for aliens in the background of its observations for other astronomy studies in 2021.

    NRAO/Karl V Jansky Expanded Very Large Array, on the Plains of San Agustin fifty miles west of Socorro, NM, USA, at an elevation of 6970 ft (2124 m)

    Building better filters

    Getting more eyes on the sky is a key part of SETI. But while telescopes are heaping up a massive haystack of data, there’s still the task of searching for any needles buried within. And it could take picking through the same data more than once. New computer algorithms can always revisit old observations to search for blips that previous analyses missed.

    Often in radio astronomy, “the most interesting discoveries are not made on the first or the second or even the third analysis of the dataset,” Siemion says. For example, brief, brilliant flashes of radio waves from distant galaxies called fast radio bursts were first discovered in a reexamination of old data from the Parkes telescope (SN: 7/25/14).

    In SETI, the perennial challenge is devising techniques to better distinguish potential alien signals from radio interference by earthly technology. SETI scientists are usually seeking the same kind of tight, well-defined radio transmissions that human electronics produce. Such signals are easily distinguishable from radio waves emanating from natural sources, such as stars or galaxies, which tend to vary slowly over time or be smeared out across many frequencies. But that means scientists have to judge whether any promising signals they detect are coming from deep space or from a nearby a cell phone or satellite.

    One way of doing this is to point a telescope at a target, like a star, then somewhere else. Any radio signals that appear when the telescope is pointed in both directions are probably humanmade radio interference. Conventional computer algorithms detect changes between on-star and off-star observations simply by comparing the amount of energy detected in each observation. But if a faint alien transmission overlaps in the sky with earthly noise, a basic energy-detection algorithm may mistakenly discount everything it sees as humanmade noise.

    Some researchers hope artificial intelligence will be better than rigid energy-detection algorithms at detecting subtle changes between on- and off-star observations. While at the Berkeley SETI Research Center, applied machine learning researcher Yunfan Gerry Zhang taught an AI to recognize radio interference from human technology by showing it thousands of observations from the Green Bank Telescope. Using its learned sense of what earthly radio interference looked like, the AI could accurately pick out humanmade noise that was mixed into on-star observations.

    If such an algorithm were to detect radio signals from a star that didn’t qualify as humanmade noise, the AI could flag that star for researchers as a potential source of alien transmissions. Zhang’s team presented the AI at the 2018 IEEE Global Conference on Signal and Information Processing as a tool for finding oddities in future SETI investigations.

    Looking for lasers

    Radio waves, the focus of mainstream SETI, are not the only means of sending interstellar messages. Aliens could also encode information in nanosecond laser pulses. Though lasers were first suggested as potential interstellar beacons in 1961, most SETI searches have followed Drake in looking for radio communications — partly because radio waves are low energy, and so possibly a more cost-effective way to package interstellar mail.

    But optical light could also be a practical interstellar beacon if focused into a narrow laser beam, argue proponents of this approach, called optical SETI or OSETI.

    3
    Site Map for Optical SETI. The Columbus Optical SETI Observatory

    Fast laser flashes would be would be detected as a bunch of photons hitting the telescope all at once, as opposed to the steady trickle of incoming photons from background starlight. As a result, for the nanosecond duration of the laser pulse, it could outshine surrounding stars. And no known astrophysical sources produce nanosecond optical blips.

    “Optical SETI is still in its infancy, or early toddler phase,” compared with radio SETI, says Shelley Wright, an astrophysicist at the University of California, San Diego. But if used in tandem with radio scans of the sky, OSETI efforts can expand the search into entirely different mode of communication.

    In July 2019, the VERITAS telescope array at the Whipple Observatory in Arizona [above] joined Breakthrough Listen. This telescope quartet was built to watch for brief flashes of blue “Čerenkov” light generated by astrophysical gamma rays hitting Earth’s atmosphere. But its fast cameras are also well suited to looking for E.T.’s laser beams.

    The VERITAS Breakthrough Listen effort involves both new optical stellar observations and a review of old VERITAS data. Already, some of those analyses have garnered results, even if somewhat disappointing. Nine hours of observations taken from 2009 to 2015 of Tabby’s Star — once suspected of holding an alien megastructure in its orbit due to its bizarre periodic dimming (SN: 1/3/18) — found no alien laser beacons, the researchers reported in The Astrophysical Journal Letters in 2016.

    Wright and colleagues hope to dramatically expand OSETI with new facilities. While previous OSETI searches, including VERITAS, have targeted specific stars for only minutes at a time, Wright’s team has drawn up a blueprint for four dedicated SETI observatories to keep constant vigil for alien laser pulses across the entire observable sky.

    Laser SETI, the future of SETI Institute research

    This observatory concept, dubbed PANOSETI, was described at the SPIE Astronomical Telescopes + Instrumentation meeting in Austin, Texas, in July 2018. Each observatory would be a dome covered in 88 lenses with optical and near-infrared detectors. One pair of observatories in the Northern Hemisphere would keep watch over the northern sky, while a second pair in the south would keep tabs on the southern sky.

    6
    PANOSETI instrumentation

    Two observatories in two different locations would have to keep watch over the same part of the sky to ensure that anything a single observatory detected wasn’t a glitch or an effect caused by local light pollution, Wright says — the same way a pair of far-flung LIGO detectors teamed up to detect cosmic ripples called gravitational waves (SN: 2/11/16). “Nobody would have believed LIGO without a secondary site,” she says. Double-checking potential detections would be absolutely crucial for a claim as extraordinary as receiving a greeting from E.T.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

     
  • richardmitnick 12:55 pm on November 4, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Breakthrough Listen Project, , , Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence,   

    From Breakthrough Listen Project via EarthSky: “Breakthrough Listen and TESS team up for SETI” 

    From Breakthrough Listen Project

    via

    1

    EarthSky

    November 3, 2019
    Paul Scott Anderson

    Will we ever hear from an alien civilization? Will we hear from one in our lifetimes? Now 2 powerhouses in the world of astronomy have teamed up to optimize the chances of a successful search for extraterrestrial intelligence.

    1
    Image via Breakthrough Listen/Danielle Futselaar/SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute.

    In recent decades, missions to planets and moons in our solar system have been alert for signs of microbial life. Astronomers have found thousands of exoplanets, or worlds orbiting distant suns. There’ve been the traditional searches for intelligent radio signals (SETI), now including searches for light signals (optical SETI). Scientists now speak of technosignatures – signs of advanced technologies – as distinct from biosignatures. Late last month, two major programs announced they’re joining forces in the search for intelligent life elsewhere in our galaxy. Breakthrough Listen, part of Breakthrough Initiatives, has announced it will collaborate with NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) mission.

    NASA/MIT TESS replaced Kepler in search for exoplanets

    Breakthrough Listen has $100 million in funding and is using thousands of hours of dedicated telescope time on state-of-the-art earthly facilities – targeting a million nearby stars and the centers of 100 galaxies – in its search for technosignatures. TESS, meanwhile, uses a novel highly-elliptical orbit around Earth (at its farthest from us, it’s as far as the moon) in its task of seeking – and finding – new exoplanets, including smaller, rocky worlds like Earth.

    The new initiative was announced at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Washington, D.C., on October 23, 2019. It’ll be led by TESS Deputy Science Director Sara Seager, S. Pete Worden, Executive Director of Breakthrough Initiatives and Andrew Siemion, leader of the Breakthrough Listen science team.

    The collaboration will allow Breakthrough Listen to focus on more specific targets, rocky planets like Earth that may be habitable. Using data from TESS, it is estimated that over 1,000 new “objects of interest” will be added to Breakthrough Listen’s target list. The project will use a wide range of telescopes, including Green Bank, Parkes Telescopes, MeerKAT2, Automated Planet Finder, VERITAS4, NenuFAR, FAST5, Murchison Widefield Array, LOFAR stations in Ireland and Sweden, Jodrell Bank Observatory, e-MERLIN6, Keck Observatory, Sardinia Radio Telescope and Allen Telescope Array7. Worden said:

    “It’s exciting that the world’s most powerful SETI search, with our partner facilities across the globe, will be collaborating with the TESS team and our most capable planet-hunting machine. We’re looking forward to working together as we try to answer one of the most profound questions about our place in the Universe: Are we alone?”

    TESS is the planet-hunting successor to the Kepler Space Telescope.

    NASA/Kepler Telescope, and K2 March 7, 2009 until November 15, 2018

    Like Kepler, it finds planets by detecting their transits in front of their stars.

    Planet transit. NASA/Ames

    While Kepler focused on distant stars in certain patches of the sky, TESS looks at stars much closer to us, over about 85% of the sky – 400 times more than Kepler – with a prime focus on rocky worlds similar to Earth in size and mass. TESS was launched in April 2018, and has four wide-field cameras, each monitoring a region of sky 24 degrees across (about the width of your hand held at arm’s length). Light curves – how the brightness of stars changes over time – for 20,000 stars are measured every two minutes, and the brightness of every pixel in the cameras is recorded every 30 minutes.

    Over 4,000 exoplanets have been confirmed so far in the past three decades, with many of those coming from Kepler. But TESS is now already quickly adding to that list, and is predicted to find at least 10,000 new exoplanets. Overall, scientists now estimate there are billions of planets in our galaxy alone!

    TESS has a unique advantage in working together with Breakthrough Listen. All the planetary systems it discovers will be edge-on as viewed from Earth. The majority of radio signal leakage on Earth – about 70% – comes from the plane of Earth’s orbit. If an alien civilization had transmitters emitting radio signals in a similar manner, the best chance of detecting them is to view the planetary systems edge-on.

    This, of course, has only to do with radio signals. As many scientists now suggest, there are other possibilities for detecting signs of an advanced alien civilization. If such a civilization was much further ahead technologically than us, it might not use radio at all anymore. Both Breakthrough Listen and TESS are capable of finding other kinds of anomalies as well, such as megastructures in orbit around a planet or star, perhaps resembling a Dyson sphere.

    6
    Artist’s concept of a Dyson sphere, a hypothetical construction around a star to harness the star’s energy. This is one type of technosignature that could be detected by the new Breakthrough Listen/TESS project. Image via SentientDevelopments.com.

    Boyajian’s Star – aka Tabby’s Star – is a good example of a star exhibiting weird, potentially alien-related behavior, as Siemion noted:

    “The discovery by the Kepler spacecraft of Boyajian’s Star, an object with wild, and apparently random, variations in its light curve, sparked great excitement and a range of possible explanations, of which megastructures were just one.

    3
    Theories about Tabby’s Star have ranged from comets to alien megastructures. Could the explanation really be an evaporating exomoon? Image via NASA/JPL-Caltech/Sky & Telescope.

    Follow-up observations have suggested that dust particles in orbit around the star are responsible for the dimming, but studies of anomalies like this are expanding our knowledge of astrophysics, as well as casting a wider net in the search for technosignatures.”

    For those of us hoping to find evidence of intelligent alien life, this new collaboration is exciting. It will help to better refine search efforts as we learn more about which planetary systems would be the best to focus on instead of the more random kinds of searches done in the past. TESS, and other future planet-hunting telescopes, will be invaluable in determining which exoplanets in our galaxy are the most likely to be habitable, allowing Breakthrough Listen and other SETI-type searches to focus more on such worlds as possible homes for alien intelligence. In Seager’s words:

    “We are very enthusiastic about joining the Breakthrough Listen SETI search. Out of all the exoplanet endeavors only SETI holds the promise for identifying signs of intelligent life.”

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Listen

    Breakthrough Listen is the largest ever scientific research program aimed at finding evidence of civilizations beyond Earth. The scope and power of the search are on an unprecedented scale:

    The program includes a survey of the 1,000,000 closest stars to Earth. It scans the center of our galaxy and the entire galactic plane. Beyond the Milky Way, it listens for messages from the 100 closest galaxies to ours.

    The instruments used are among the world’s most powerful. They are 50 times more sensitive than existing telescopes dedicated to the search for intelligence.

    These are among the astronomical resources imvolved with Breakthrough Listen

    CSIRO/Parkes Observatory, located 20 kilometres north of the town of Parkes, New South Wales, Australia

    UC Observatories Lick Autmated Planet Finder, fully robotic 2.4-meter optical telescope at Lick Observatory, situated on the summit of Mount Hamilton, east of San Jose, California, USA



    GBO radio telescope, Green Bank, West Virginia, USA

    SKA SARAO Meerkat telescope(s), 90 km outside the small Northern Cape town of Carnarvon, SA

    CfA/VERITAS, a major ground-based gamma-ray observatory with an array of four 12m optical reflectors for gamma-ray astronomy in the GeV – TeV energy range. Located at Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory,Mount Hopkins, Arizona, US in AZ, USA, Altitude 2,606 m (8,550 ft)

    French NenuFAR Radio telescope

    SKA Murchison Widefield Array, Boolardy station in outback Western Australia, at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO)

    SKA LOFAR core (“superterp”) near Exloo, Netherlands

    LOFAR Sweden Radio Telescope

    Jodrell Bank Lovell Telescope

    SETI/Allen Telescope Array situated at the Hat Creek Radio Observatory, 290 miles (470 km) northeast of San Francisco, California, USA, Altitude 986 m (3,235 ft)

    The radio surveys cover 10 times more of the sky than previous programs. They also cover at least 5 times more of the radio spectrum – and do it 100 times faster. They are sensitive enough to hear a common aircraft radar transmitting to us from any of the 1000 nearest stars.

    We are also carrying out the deepest and broadest ever search for optical laser transmissions. These spectroscopic searches are 1000 times more effective at finding laser signals than ordinary visible light surveys. They could detect a 100 watt laser (the energy of a normal household bulb) from 25 trillion miles away.

    Listen combines these instruments with innovative software and data analysis techniques.

    The initiative will span 10 years and commit a total of $100,000,000.

     
  • richardmitnick 9:38 am on July 24, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Breakthrough Listen Project, , , , , ,   

    From EarthSky: “Breakthrough Listen’s new search for alien lasers” 

    1

    From EarthSky

    July 24, 2019
    Paul Scott Anderson

    For the last few decades, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence has focused on detecting radio signals. But a new collaboration between Breakthrough Listen and VERITAS will focus on looking for laser-like flashes of light.

    1
    VERITAS will be used to help search for laser-like optical light pulses that could be beacons from an advanced alien civilization. Image via MIT/New Atlas.

    The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETIInstitute) has traditionally looked for radio signals of artificial origin, i.e. coming from an alien civilization at least as advanced as our own.



    SETI/Allen Telescope Array situated at the Hat Creek Radio Observatory, 290 miles (470 km) northeast of San Francisco, California, USA, Altitude 986 m (3,235 ft)

    We humans have been broadcasting radio waves into space for about 100 years now, since Marconi pioneered long-distance radio transmission. The reasoning has been that other civilizations might use radio, too. While that approach continues to be highly debated, there is another kind of search that is starting to be considered more seriously now as well: looking for optical signals – brief flashes of light like pulsing lasers – that could be used as beacons to communicate over interstellar distances.

    On July 17, 2019, Breakthrough Initiatives – founded in 2015 by entrepreneur Yuri Milner – announced a new partnership with the VERITAS Collaboration to focus on this strategy. VERITAS (the Very Energetic Radiation Imaging Telescope Array System) will search for such pulsed optical beacons, as well as radio signals, with its array of four 12-meter telescopes at the Whipple Observatory in Amado, Arizona.

    Breakthrough Listen Project

    1

    UC Observatories Lick Autmated Planet Finder, fully robotic 2.4-meter optical telescope at Lick Observatory, situated on the summit of Mount Hamilton, east of San Jose, California, USA




    GBO radio telescope, Green Bank, West Virginia, USA


    CSIRO/Parkes Observatory, located 20 kilometres north of the town of Parkes, New South Wales, Australia


    SKA Meerkat telescope, 90 km outside the small Northern Cape town of Carnarvon, SA

    Newly added

    CfA/VERITAS, a major ground-based gamma-ray observatory with an array of four 12m optical reflectors for gamma-ray astronomy in the GeV – TeV energy range. Located at Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory, Mount Hopkins, Arizona, US in AZ, USA, Altitude 2,606 m (8,550 ft)

    CfA Whipple Observatory, located near Amado, Arizona on the slopes of Mount Hopkins, Altitude 2,606 m (8,550 ft)

    Breakthrough Listen, part of Breakthrough Initiatives, has already been conducting searches using its still-ongoing radio frequency survey and spectroscopic optical laser survey. But VERITAS can take the search to a new level. It was built to detect cosmic gamma rays and is the most powerful telescope array in the world for studying high energy astrophysics. As it turns out, it can also be used to look for “pulsed optical beacons” – laser-like pulses of light – that are very short in duration, only a few nanoseconds (one nanosecond is a billionth of a second).

    2
    Closer view of one of the 4 telescopes in the VERITAS array. Image via CfA/SciTechDaily.

    An advantage of this method is that any artificial pulses could outshine stars that happen to lie in the same direction. The use of all four telescopes would also help to eliminate false positives from any detections made. VERITAS will provide a unique way of expanding the search for alien intelligence beyond previous methods, as noted by Yuri Milner:

    “When it comes to intelligent life beyond Earth, we don’t know where it exists or how it communicates. So our philosophy is to look in as many places, and in as many ways, as we can. VERITAS expands our range of observation even further.”

    Andrew Siemion at the Berkeley SETI Research Center added:

    “Breakthrough Listen is already the most powerful, comprehensive, and intensive search yet undertaken for signs of intelligent life beyond Earth. Now, with the addition of VERITAS, we’re sensitive to an important new class of signals: fast optical pulses. Optical communication has already been used by NASA to transmit high definition images to Earth from the moon, so there’s reason to believe that an advanced civilization might use a scaled-up version of this technology for interstellar communication.”

    VERITAS will be able to detect very faint light signals, if any exist, according to Jamie Holder at the University of Delaware:

    Just how sensitive is VERITAS? The most powerful lasers on Earth can transmit a pulse of 500 terawatts lasting only a few nanoseconds. If one were placed at the distance of Tabby’s Star – that weird dimming star about 1,470 light-years away – then VERITAS could detect it. However, most of the stars that VERITAS will observe are 10-100 times closer than that, so feasibly a pulse of light 100-10,000 times fainter than that earthly laser could be found.

    VERITAS being able to search for alien light signals is a great bonus, since that is not what it was designed for. As David Williams at the University of California, Santa Cruz said:

    “It is impressive how well-suited the VERITAS telescopes are for this project, since they were built only with the purpose of studying very-high-energy gamma rays in mind.”

    8

    Laser SETI, the future of SETI Institute research

    In California, the SETI Institute is also using Lick Observatory‘s 40-inch Nickel Telescope on Mount Hamilton with a new pulse-detection system, to look for similar laser beacons from civilizations many light-years distant. Optical SETI has its advantages over radio SETI, such as no radio signal interference, according to Frank Drake, director of the Carl Sagan Center for Research:

    One great advantage of optical SETI is that there’s no terrestrial interference. It’s an exciting new field.

    This Lick experiment is unique as it uses three light detectors (photomultipliers) to search for bright pulses that arrive in a short period of time (less than a billionth of a second). Light from the star itself can also trigger the detectors as well, but seldom will all three photomultipliers be hit by photons within a billionth of a second time frame. This means few false alarms are expected, only about one per year.

    New and novel ways of looking for evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence are welcome, since the previous, traditional SETI method of just searching for radio signals is considered by many to be antiquated. Would a civilization thousands or millions of years more advanced then us still be using radio waves to communicate? SETI and other searches should be as broad as possible, and consider alternate possibilities for the best chance of success. With billions of stars in our galaxy alone, the hunt for such signals is like looking for a needle in a haystack. VERITAS is just one such alternate method, but it is a good start.

    Breakthrough Listen is a comprehensive initiative to search for evidence of intelligent, technological life from nearby stars to the universe at large. The objective is to examine one million nearby stars, all the stars in the galactic plane and 100 nearby galaxies, for both radio and optical signals. Not a small undertaking, but if there is to be any chance of finding an alien light show, then we must look.

    7
    This is how far human radio broadcasts have reached into the galaxy – not the black square – but the little blue dot at the center of that zoomed-in square. The ever-expanding bubble announcing humanity’s presence to anyone listening in the Milky Way is now only about 200 light-years wide, in contrast to our 100,000-light-year galaxy. Graphic created by Adam Grossman. Read more from Emily Lakdawalla at the Planetary Society.

    Search for extraterrestrial intelligence expands at Lick Observatory

    UCSC Lick Observatory, Mt Hamilton, in San Jose, California, Altitude 1,283 m (4,209 ft)

    New instrument scans the sky for pulses of infrared light

    March 23, 2015
    By Hilary Lebow

    1
    The NIROSETI instrument saw first light on the Nickel 1-meter Telescope at Lick Observatory on March 15, 2015. (Photo by Laurie Hatch)

    Astronomers are expanding the search for extraterrestrial intelligence into a new realm with detectors tuned to infrared light at UC’s Lick Observatory. A new instrument, called NIROSETI, will soon scour the sky for messages from other worlds.

    “Infrared light would be an excellent means of interstellar communication,” said Shelley Wright, an assistant professor of physics at UC San Diego who led the development of the new instrument while at the University of Toronto’s Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics.

    Wright worked on an earlier SETI project at Lick Observatory as a UC Santa Cruz undergraduate, when she built an optical instrument designed by UC Berkeley researchers. The infrared project takes advantage of new technology not available for that first optical search.

    Infrared light would be a good way for extraterrestrials to get our attention here on Earth, since pulses from a powerful infrared laser could outshine a star, if only for a billionth of a second. Interstellar gas and dust is almost transparent to near infrared, so these signals can be seen from great distances. It also takes less energy to send information using infrared signals than with visible light.

    5
    UCSC alumna Shelley Wright, now an assistant professor of physics at UC San Diego, discusses the dichroic filter of the NIROSETI instrument. (Photo by Laurie Hatch)

    Frank Drake, professor emeritus of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz and director emeritus of the SETI Institute, said there are several additional advantages to a search in the infrared realm.

    “The signals are so strong that we only need a small telescope to receive them. Smaller telescopes can offer more observational time, and that is good because we need to search many stars for a chance of success,” said Drake.

    The only downside is that extraterrestrials would need to be transmitting their signals in our direction, Drake said, though he sees this as a positive side to that limitation. “If we get a signal from someone who’s aiming for us, it could mean there’s altruism in the universe. I like that idea. If they want to be friendly, that’s who we will find.”

    Scientists have searched the skies for radio signals for more than 50 years and expanded their search into the optical realm more than a decade ago. The idea of searching in the infrared is not a new one, but instruments capable of capturing pulses of infrared light only recently became available.

    “We had to wait,” Wright said. “I spent eight years waiting and watching as new technology emerged.”

    Now that technology has caught up, the search will extend to stars thousands of light years away, rather than just hundreds. NIROSETI, or Near-Infrared Optical Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, could also uncover new information about the physical universe.

    “This is the first time Earthlings have looked at the universe at infrared wavelengths with nanosecond time scales,” said Dan Werthimer, UC Berkeley SETI Project Director. “The instrument could discover new astrophysical phenomena, or perhaps answer the question of whether we are alone.”

    NIROSETI will also gather more information than previous optical detectors by recording levels of light over time so that patterns can be analyzed for potential signs of other civilizations.

    “Searching for intelligent life in the universe is both thrilling and somewhat unorthodox,” said Claire Max, director of UC Observatories and professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz. “Lick Observatory has already been the site of several previous SETI searches, so this is a very exciting addition to the current research taking place.”

    NIROSETI will be fully operational by early summer and will scan the skies several times a week on the Nickel 1-meter telescope at Lick Observatory, located on Mt. Hamilton east of San Jose.

    The NIROSETI team also includes Geoffrey Marcy and Andrew Siemion from UC Berkeley; Patrick Dorval, a Dunlap undergraduate, and Elliot Meyer, a Dunlap graduate student; and Richard Treffers of Starman Systems. Funding for the project comes from the generous support of Bill and Susan Bloomfield.

    Optical SETI has its advantages over radio SETI, such as no radio signal interference, according to Frank Drake, director of the Carl Sagan Center for Research:

    “One great advantage of optical SETI is that there’s no terrestrial interference. It’s an exciting new field.”

    See the full article here .
    See the earlier blog post on Breakthrough Listen here.

    Not included in this far reaching article-

    seti@home


    SETI@home, a BOINC project originated in the Space Science Lab at UC Berkeley


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and founded EarthSky.orgin 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. “Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers,” she says.

     
  • richardmitnick 1:31 pm on July 18, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Breakthrough Listen Project, , , , VERITAS Collaboration added to project   

    From UC Santa Cruz: “Breakthrough Listen launches new optical search with VERITAS Telescope Array” 

    UC Santa Cruz

    From UC Santa Cruz

    July 17, 2019
    Tim Stephens
    stephens@ucsc.edu

    SCIPP (Santa Cruz Institute for Particle Physics) physicist David Williams will help lead effort using four 12-meter telescopes to search for nanosecond flashes of light from extraterrestrial civilizations.

    The Breakthrough Listen initiative to find signs of intelligent life in the universe will collaborate with the VERITAS Collaboration in the search for technosignatures, signs of technology developed by intelligent life beyond the Earth.

    Joining the Breakthrough Listen initiative’s ongoing radio frequency survey and spectroscopic optical laser survey, VERITAS (the Very Energetic Radiation Imaging Telescope Array System) will search for pulsed optical beacons with its array of four 12-meter telescopes at the Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory in Amado, Arizona.

    VERITAS is the world’s most powerful telescope array for studying high-energy astrophysics with gamma rays. It detects gamma rays coming from space by looking for the extremely brief flashes of blue “Čerenkov” light they create when they hit the top of the Earth’s atmosphere.

    VERITAS will look for pulsed optical beacons with durations as short as several nanoseconds. Over such timescales, artificial beacons could easily outshine any stars that lie in the same direction on the sky. The use of all four telescopes simultaneously allows for very effective discrimination against false positive detections. The VERITAS Collaboration has previously published observations of the mysteriously dimming Boyajian’s Star in search of such optical pulses. The new program of VERITAS observations will provide complementary searches for optical pulse signatures of many more stars from the primary Breakthrough Listen star list.

    “It is impressive how well-suited the VERITAS telescopes are for this project, since they were built only with the purpose of studying very-high-energy gamma rays in mind,” said David Williams, adjunct professor of physics at UC Santa Cruz and the Santa Cruz Institute for Particle Physics (SCIPP) and a member of the VERITAS collaboration.

    Breakthrough Listen’s search for optical technosignatures with VERITAS will be led by Williams at UCSC and Jamie Holder of the University of Delaware, in collaboration with the Listen team at UC Berkeley’s SETI Research Center led by Andrew Siemion.

    “When it comes to intelligent life beyond Earth, we don’t know where it exists or how it communicates,” said Yuri Milner, founder of the Breakthrough Initiatives. “So our philosophy is to look in as many places, and in as many ways, as we can. VERITAS expands our range of observation even further.”

    “Breakthrough Listen is already the most powerful, comprehensive, and intensive search yet undertaken for signs of intelligent life beyond Earth,” Siemion said. “Now, with the addition of VERITAS, we’re sensitive to an important new class of signals: fast optical pulses. Optical communication has already been used by NASA to transmit high definition images to Earth from the moon, so there’s reason to believe that an advanced civilization might use a scaled-up version of this technology for interstellar communication.”

    If a laser comparable to the most powerful lasers on Earth (delivering about 500 terawatts in a pulse lasting a few nanoseconds) were situated at the distance of Boyajian’s Star and pointed in our direction, VERITAS could detect it. But most of the stars in the Listen target list are 10 to 100 times closer than Boyajian’s Star, meaning that the new search will be sensitive to pulses a factor 100 to 10,000 times fainter still.

    “Using the huge mirror area of the four VERITAS telescopes will allow us to search for these extremely faint optical flashes in the night sky, which could correspond to signals from an extraterrestrial civilization,” said Holder.

    Breakthrough Listen Project

    1

    UC Observatories Lick Autmated Planet Finder, fully robotic 2.4-meter optical telescope at Lick Observatory, situated on the summit of Mount Hamilton, east of San Jose, California, USA




    GBO radio telescope, Green Bank, West Virginia, USA


    CSIRO/Parkes Observatory, located 20 kilometres north of the town of Parkes, New South Wales, Australia


    SKA Meerkat telescope, 90 km outside the small Northern Cape town of Carnarvon, SA

    Newly added

    CfA/VERITAS, a major ground-based gamma-ray observatory with an array of four 12m optical reflectors for gamma-ray astronomy in the GeV – TeV energy range. Located at Fred Lawrence Whipple Observatory, Mount Hopkins, Arizona, US in AZ, USA, Altitude 2,606 m (8,550 ft)

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    UCSC Lick Observatory, Mt Hamilton, in San Jose, California, Altitude 1,283 m (4,209 ft)

    .

    UCO Lick Shane Telescope
    UCO Lick Shane Telescope interior
    Shane Telescope at UCO Lick Observatory, UCSC

    Lick Automated Planet Finder telescope, Mount Hamilton, CA, USA

    Lick Automated Planet Finder telescope, Mount Hamilton, CA, USA

    UC Santa Cruz campus
    The University of California, Santa Cruz, opened in 1965 and grew, one college at a time, to its current (2008-09) enrollment of more than 16,000 students. Undergraduates pursue more than 60 majors supervised by divisional deans of humanities, physical & biological sciences, social sciences, and arts. Graduate students work toward graduate certificates, master’s degrees, or doctoral degrees in more than 30 academic fields under the supervision of the divisional and graduate deans. The dean of the Jack Baskin School of Engineering oversees the campus’s undergraduate and graduate engineering programs.

    UCSC is the home base for the Lick Observatory.

    Lick Observatory's Great Lick 91-centimeter (36-inch) telescope housed in the South (large) Dome of main building
    Lick Observatory’s Great Lick 91-centimeter (36-inch) telescope housed in the South (large) Dome of main building

    Search for extraterrestrial intelligence expands at Lick Observatory
    New instrument scans the sky for pulses of infrared light
    March 23, 2015
    By Hilary Lebow
    1
    The NIROSETI instrument saw first light on the Nickel 1-meter Telescope at Lick Observatory on March 15, 2015. (Photo by Laurie Hatch) UCSC Lick Nickel telescope

    Astronomers are expanding the search for extraterrestrial intelligence into a new realm with detectors tuned to infrared light at UC’s Lick Observatory. A new instrument, called NIROSETI, will soon scour the sky for messages from other worlds.

    “Infrared light would be an excellent means of interstellar communication,” said Shelley Wright, an assistant professor of physics at UC San Diego who led the development of the new instrument while at the University of Toronto’s Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics.

    Wright worked on an earlier SETI project at Lick Observatory as a UC Santa Cruz undergraduate, when she built an optical instrument designed by UC Berkeley researchers. The infrared project takes advantage of new technology not available for that first optical search.

    Infrared light would be a good way for extraterrestrials to get our attention here on Earth, since pulses from a powerful infrared laser could outshine a star, if only for a billionth of a second. Interstellar gas and dust is almost transparent to near infrared, so these signals can be seen from great distances. It also takes less energy to send information using infrared signals than with visible light.

    Frank Drake, professor emeritus of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz and director emeritus of the SETI Institute, said there are several additional advantages to a search in the infrared realm.

    “The signals are so strong that we only need a small telescope to receive them. Smaller telescopes can offer more observational time, and that is good because we need to search many stars for a chance of success,” said Drake.

    The only downside is that extraterrestrials would need to be transmitting their signals in our direction, Drake said, though he sees this as a positive side to that limitation. “If we get a signal from someone who’s aiming for us, it could mean there’s altruism in the universe. I like that idea. If they want to be friendly, that’s who we will find.”

    Scientists have searched the skies for radio signals for more than 50 years and expanded their search into the optical realm more than a decade ago. The idea of searching in the infrared is not a new one, but instruments capable of capturing pulses of infrared light only recently became available.

    “We had to wait,” Wright said. “I spent eight years waiting and watching as new technology emerged.”

    Now that technology has caught up, the search will extend to stars thousands of light years away, rather than just hundreds. NIROSETI, or Near-Infrared Optical Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, could also uncover new information about the physical universe.

    “This is the first time Earthlings have looked at the universe at infrared wavelengths with nanosecond time scales,” said Dan Werthimer, UC Berkeley SETI Project Director. “The instrument could discover new astrophysical phenomena, or perhaps answer the question of whether we are alone.”

    NIROSETI will also gather more information than previous optical detectors by recording levels of light over time so that patterns can be analyzed for potential signs of other civilizations.

    “Searching for intelligent life in the universe is both thrilling and somewhat unorthodox,” said Claire Max, director of UC Observatories and professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz. “Lick Observatory has already been the site of several previous SETI searches, so this is a very exciting addition to the current research taking place.”

    NIROSETI will be fully operational by early summer and will scan the skies several times a week on the Nickel 1-meter telescope at Lick Observatory, located on Mt. Hamilton east of San Jose.

    The NIROSETI team also includes Geoffrey Marcy and Andrew Siemion from UC Berkeley; Patrick Dorval, a Dunlap undergraduate, and Elliot Meyer, a Dunlap graduate student; and Richard Treffers of Starman Systems. Funding for the project comes from the generous support of Bill and Susan Bloomfield.

     
  • richardmitnick 12:52 pm on January 28, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Astro 2020: Decadal Survey on Astronomy and Astrophysics, , , , Breakthrough Listen Project, , ,   

    From Science News: “It’s time to start taking the search for E.T. seriously, astronomers say” 

    From Science News

    January 28, 2019
    Lisa Grossman

    WE’RE LISTENING The Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia was the first to listen for signals from intelligent aliens in 1960. The radio telescope has gotten back into the search for extraterrestrial intelligence in recent years.



    GBO radio telescope, Green Bank, West Virginia, USA

    Long an underfunded, fringe field of science, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence may be ready to go mainstream.

    Astronomer Jason Wright is determined to see that happen. At a meeting in Seattle of the American Astronomical Society in January, Wright convened “a little ragtag group in a tiny room” to plot a course for putting the scientific field, known as SETI, on NASA’s agenda.

    The group is writing a series of papers arguing that scientists should be searching the universe for “technosignatures” — any sign of alien technology, from radio signals to waste heat. The hope is that those papers will go into a report to Congress at the end of 2020 detailing the astronomical community’s priorities. That report, Astro 2020: Decadal Survey on Astronomy and Astrophysics, will determine which telescopes fly and which studies receive federal funding through the next decade.

    “The stakes are high,” says Wright, of Penn State University. “If the decadal survey says, ‘SETI is a national science priority, and NSF and NASA need to fund it,’ they will do it.”

    SETI searches date back to 1960, when astronomer Frank Drake used the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia to listen for signals from an intelligent civilization (SN Online: 11/1/09). But NASA didn’t start a formal SETI program until 1992, only to see it canceled within a year by a skeptical Congress.

    Drake Equation, Frank Drake, Seti Institute


    Frank Drake speaking at Cornell University in Schwartz Auditorium, 19 October 2017 by Amalex5

    Private organizations picked up the baton, including the SETI Institute, founded in Mountain View, Calif., in 1985 by astronomer Jill Tarter — the inspiration for Jodie Foster’s character in the movie Contact (SN Online: 5/29/12).

    Jill Tarter Image courtesy of Jill Tarter

    SETI/Allen Telescope Array situated at the Hat Creek Radio Observatory, 290 miles (470 km) northeast of San Francisco, California, USA, Altitude 986 m (3,235 ft)

    Then in 2015, Russian billionaires Yuri and Julia Milner launched the Breakthrough Initiatives to join the hunt for E.T.

    Breakthrough Listen Project

    1

    Lick Automated Planet Finder telescope, Mount Hamilton, CA, USA



    GBO radio telescope, Green Bank, West Virginia, USA


    CSIRO/Parkes Observatory, located 20 kilometres north of the town of Parkes, New South Wales, Australia


    SKA Meerkat telescope, 90 km outside the small Northern Cape town of Carnarvon, SA

    But the search for technosignatures still hasn’t become a more serious, self-sustaining scientific discipline, Wright says.

    “If NASA were to declare technosignatures a scientific priority, then we would be able to apply for money to work on it. We would be able to train students to do it,” Wright says. “Then we could catch up” to more mature fields of astronomy, he says.

    Wright himself is a relative newcomer to SETI, entering the field in 2014 with a study on searching for heat from alien technology. He was also one of a group to suggest that the oddly flickering “Tabby’s star” could be surrounded by an alien megastructure — and then to debunk that idea with more data (SN: 9/30/17, p. 11).

    In the last five years, scientists’ attitudes toward the search for intelligent alien life have been changing, Wright says. SETI used to have a “giggle factor,” raising images of little green men, he says. And talking about SETI work as an astronomer was considered taboo, if not academic suicide. Now, not so much. “I have the pop sociology theory that the ascension of geek culture has something to do with it,” Wright says. “Now it’s like all the top movies are comic books and science fiction.”

    When NASA requested a report in 2018 on what technosignatures are and how to look for them, SETI researchers thought hopefully that the space agency might be ready to get back into the SETI game. Colleagues tapped Wright to organize a meeting to prepare the technosignatures report, posted online December 20 at arXiv.org.

    But Wright didn’t stop there. He convened the new workshop group with the goal of dividing up the work of writing at least nine papers on specific SETI opportunities for the decadal survey. By contrast, there was only one submission on SETI research, written by Tarter, in the 2010 decadal survey.

    The SETI situation has also evolved since the 2009 launch of the Kepler space telescope, which discovered thousands of exoplanets before its mission ended in 2018 (SN Online: 10/30/18). Some of those planets outside our solar system are similar in size and temperature to Earth, raising hopes that they may also host life. Old arguments that planets like Earth are rare “don’t hold much water any longer,” Wright says.

    The exoplanet rush has sparked a surge in research about biosignatures, signs of microbial life on other planets. NASA’s next big space telescope, the James Webb Space Telescope, is planning to search directly for signs of alien life in exoplanet atmospheres (SN: 4/30/16, p. 32). So far, though, no one has found any biosignatures, let alone technosignatures. But the focus on searching for the one makes the case for ignoring the other seem all the weaker, Wright says.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

     
  • richardmitnick 7:48 pm on September 15, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Breakthrough Listen Project, , , Yuri and Julia Milner   

    From UCSC Lick via Hong Kong Tatler: “Meet The Milners: Written In The Stars” 

    UC Santa Cruz

    From UC Santa Cruz

    via

    2

    Hong Kong Tatlar

    1

    September 15, 2018
    Sean Fitzpatrick

    There were too many uncanny signs in the life of billionaire philanthropist Yuri Milner for him to ignore a childhood calling. We travel to Silicon Valley to meet him and his wife, Julia, and find out about their quest to solve the question: Are we alone?

    There could have been a giant pyramid in California. In the late 1800s, James Lick, a property tycoon who had become California’s richest person, wanted to leave a legacy and took inspiration from Egypt’s pharaohs. The Pyramids of Giza have long sparked the collective imagination, with some experts positing that they were built as afterlife launchpads, designed to send the soul of departed rulers shooting up into the stars.

    And, like a modern-day pharaoh, Lick wanted to be buried inside his creation, perhaps harbouring a hope that his soul would be sent on an eternal voyage through the cosmos. However, Lick was talked out of it by an astronomer friend who suggested that a more philanthropic legacy would be to fund the establishment of a world-class observatory.

    Perched atop San Jose’s Mount Hamilton, the Lick Observatory was officially opened in 1887 and housed what was at the time the world’s largest refracting telescope [see below]. But by then its benefactor had passed away; at the base of the telescope mounting—a thick metal column visible in the images on the previous two spreads—hangs a plaque that reads, “Here lies the body of James Lick.”

    UCSC Lick Observatory, Mt Hamilton, in San Jose, California, Altitude 1,283 m (4,209 ft)

    .

    2
    Photo: Austin Hargrave for Hong Kong Tatler

    The couple in the image above are Yuri and Julia Milner, the modern-day philanthropists who are funding one of the projects at the Lick Observatory. Together they form a striking pair, looking as if they have walked out of the latest X-Men movie, he the gifted mastermind and she the lithe heroine with otherworldly powers.

    The Milners are well known in global tech circles; Yuri’s early investments in Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, Spotify, Alibaba and JD, as well as his pioneering role in Russia’s nascent tech industry in the ’90s, have earned him a US$4 billion fortune and a place on numerous published lists of the world’s top tech titans. Through the company he founded, DST Global, Yuri has more recently invested in Meituan and Didi.

    But it is for their philanthropic projects that the Milners are perhaps best known. As founders of the Breakthrough Prize, the couple are committed to supporting science with awards and by raising its profile among the influential as well as the general public.

    Julia and Yuri, a former physicist, have pulled together a formidable network of supporters through regular gatherings at their sprawling Los Altos mansion, private screenings of science-themed movies and, surprisingly, through games of their favoured sport, badminton, which is apparently de rigueur in Silicon Valley circles. The couple take the sport so seriously that they receive training from a Chinese coach who worked with the US Olympic team.

    4
    Photo: Austin Hargrave for Hong Kong Tatler

    5
    Photo: Austin Hargrave for Hong Kong Tatler

    The Breakthrough Prize is co-funded by a who’s who of Silicon Valley: Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan of Facebook, Google’s Sergey Brin, and Anne Wojcicki, the founder of genome-testing company 23andMe. The most recent addition is Tencent co-founder Pony Ma.

    With this calibre of patronage one would expect sizeable financial incentives and indeed there are: the Breakthrough Prize awards six prizes each year to outstanding scientists—four for work in the life sciences, one for physics and one for mathematics. Each award comes with a cash payment of US$3 million, nearly three times that of a Nobel Prize.

    Since 2012, the prizes have been handed out at a lavish event held in Hangar One, the iconic mid-century modern structure in Silicon Valley, which is televised live around the world. Hollywood stars, wrangled by Julia, and tech entrepreneurs, wrangled by Yuri, share the stage with boffins in what is often called the Oscars of science.

    Says Julia, “Who are today’s superstars? Hollywood actors, athletes, Instagram bloggers. Scientists are completely unknown to most people. We wanted—to put it very literally—to make them celebrities too, and in this way popularise science.”

    “If celebrity is the measure of our priorities as a civilisation, then we need science to be more represented because science should be one of the main priorities, if not the priority,” adds Yuri. “And celebrities are now the ones talking to hundreds of millions of people. If we don’t have scientists represented, then their message will get lost. And if their message is lost, there’ll be no public support for science.”

    But the Milners’ efforts to raise awareness are working. In 2015, the foundation created the Breakthrough Junior Challenge for teenagers with the winner receiving a US$250,000 university scholarship, US$50,000 for the teacher who inspired them and a US$100,000 upgrade for their school’s science lab.

    The inaugural recipient, a Cleveland-based 18-year-old named Ryan Chester, was honoured by his hometown in an unexpected way: “The mayor issued a decree for a day of the year to be named after Ryan, to celebrate science. That’s the type of thing we’re looking for. The word spreads,” explains Yuri. “We would like the next generation, the young people to watch this ceremony. And now we are thinking of branching out with a dedicated prize for high-school kids in China.”

    Aside from the Breakthrough Prize, the Milners’ foundation also supports Breakthrough Initiatives, highly ambitious projects designed to help find the answer to what they believe is the most profound question of our time: Are we alone in the universe? It is a question that has fascinated Yuri since childhood.

    Born in Moscow in 1961 to Jewish intellectuals, Yuri—who was named after Yuri Gagarin, the Russian cosmonaut who that same year became the first man in space—reaped the benefit of a well-stocked home library from a young age, “even before I went to school.” His favourite book and the one that inspired his lifelong fascination was Universe, Life, Intelligence, a seminal text by a Soviet astronomer, Iosif Samuilovich Shklovsky. (The book also caught the attention of US astronomer Carl Sagan, who published an English-language edition; Sagan later gained global fame with the TV show Cosmos.)

    Carl Sagan NASA/JPL

    6
    Photo: Austin Hargrave for Hong Kong Tatler

    Yuri’s passion led him to study theoretical physics at Moscow State University and then work as a physicist alongside Nobel Prize winners. Despite his passion, Yuri felt his contributions to the field were limited and he decided to change tack. In 1990, he took an MBA course at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, becoming the first non-emigre from the Soviet Union to do so. By the time the decade (and millennium) came to close, Yuri had shifted his focus completely onto the internet.

    It was during this period that he found himself at a Moscow gym, standing on a treadmill next to a tall, striking model by the name of Julia Bochkova from Siberia’s capital, Novosibirsk. The two clicked immediately, perhaps in part because she was undergoing a career change of her own.

    Since the age of 14, when she was scouted by an agency, Julia had travelled extensively, dividing her time between the world’s fashion centres, New York, Paris and Tokyo. “Then at about 20 years old I decided to stop my modelling career. Since I had made some money, I could leave and plan what to do next. So I lived in Moscow, where Yuri advised me to study photography,” she says.

    The advice proved to be sound: Julia’s successful studies and apprenticeships under notable artists culminated in her own exhibitions around the world and, in 2007, Julia was invited to participate in the prestigious Venice Biennale, where she was the youngest artist.

    For the show, Julia created an unusual work, one of the first “internet art” installations, Click I Hope, which displays “I hope” in 50 languages on a giant touch screen as well as the internet. As the words glide across the screen, viewers are encouraged to touch the ones in their own language, triggering a live tallied score.

    Although conceived before the Milners’ foundation, the work somehow pre-empts the sense of relentless hopefulness that imbues the Breakthrough Initiatives and the vastness of the search for life in the cosmos.

    For a couple whose work is mired so heavily in science’s immutable axioms of rationality and reason, a series of uncanny coincidences has occurred. When the couple relocated from Tel Aviv to Silicon Valley with their children in 2011, they bought a US$100 million mansion on a hilltop in Los Altos.

    The mansion boasts state-of-the-art technology, including a video-screen ceiling (which typically displays dramatic scenes of supernovas) as well as giant TVs in every room showing Nat Geo or Discovery, the preferred channels of the notoriously sleep-averse Yuri.

    But unbeknown to the couple at the time of purchase, the house played a historic role in the establishment of Seti, the organisation that takes its name from the acronym for Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence. A previous owner, who was a chief engineer at Hewlett-Packard, willed the house to Seti after his death in order to fund its mission.

    And, in another twist, Seti convened its very first meeting in 1961, which Yuri is quick to point out is the year of his birth.


    8
    Photo: Austin Hargrave for Hong Kong Tatler

    According to him, there’s never been a better time to engage in the search for alien life. Nasa’s Kepler spacecraft observatory, launched in 2009, has shown the world that there are many more planets than previously thought. “It turns out that there are many of them and almost every star-like sun has a planet like Earth, basically. It means that there are dozens of billions of planets like Earth in our galaxy alone. There are a hundred billion galaxies in the visible universe, so you multiply that hundred billion by dozens of billions and you get a very big number of possibilities. A few years ago, we didn’t know that. So now we know,” he says, with a nonchalance that belies the mind-boggling scale of his concept.

    The Milners’ Breakthrough Listen project is designed to harness the world’s best telescopes—from California’s Lick Observatory to the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia and Australia’s Parkes Observatory—to look for signs of civilisation on one of those many, many billions of planets.

    Breakthrough Listen Project

    1

    Lick Automated Planet Finder telescope, Mount Hamilton, CA, USA



    GBO radio telescope, Green Bank, West Virginia, USA


    CSIRO/Parkes Observatory, located 20 kilometres north of the town of Parkes, New South Wales, Australia

    The facilities’ operators, mostly academic institutions, were only too happy to accept the foundation’s much-needed funding in return for usage time, especially since “in the last few years there’s been a dramatic improvement in our understanding of the odds and probabilities of [alien life] existing. So that’s why it’s harder and harder to believe that we’re alone. It’s not impossible but it’s less likely than it was a few years ago.”

    One criticism levelled at those searching for alien life stems from what is known as the Fermi paradox: if alien civilisation is so inevitable, then why haven’t we met them yet? Some have countered this with the suggestion that advanced civilisations can often cause their own destruction, a notion not inconceivable given our own relatively recent threats of thermonuclear conflict. With the current political climate charged by global tensions, how do the Milners see themselves?

    “We think about ourselves as the product of globalisation,” says Yuri. “We were born in Russia. I was born into a Jewish family and Julia was born into a Christian family. Julia had her modelling career in Europe and Japan. I studied at Wharton. Our kids were born in Israel and the US. We live in Silicon Valley. We spend time in Asia. So it’s hard for us now to really establish a key affiliation. We see one global civilisation. When you look at our projects, they all assume that our planet is one: we’re looking for [alien] civilisations. And if we establish communication, I don’t think we will be telling them about our different countries. We are not going to be talking about elections. We will be talking about what makes us human. In a thousand years we will be one world. And, by the way, a thousand years is a very short period of time in the 14-billion-year history of our universe.”

    The most astonishing manifestation of Yuri’s cosmic dream falls under Breakthrough Starshot, a US$100 million project so awe-inspiring that it dwarfs the unfettered ambition of James Lick’s giant Californian pyramid by several orders of magnitude.

    Breakthrough Starshot will research the possibility of manufacturing thousands of nano-spaceships resembling microchips. These could be blasted out into space towards Alpha Centauri, the star system closest to our solar system that could potentially harbour life on its planets.

    Breakthrough Starshot Initiative

    Breakthrough Starshot

    ESO 3.6m telescope & HARPS at LaSilla, 600 km north of Santiago de Chile at an altitude of 2400 metres.

    SPACEOBS, the San Pedro de Atacama Celestial Explorations Observatory is located at 2450m above sea level, north of the Atacama Desert, in Chile, near to the village of San Pedro de Atacama and close to the border with Bolivia and Argentina

    SNO Sierra Nevada Observatory is a high elevation observatory 2900m above the sea level located in the Sierra Nevada mountain range in Granada Spain and operated maintained and supplied by IAC

    Teide Observatory in Tenerife Spain, home of two 40 cm LCO telescopes

    Observatori Astronòmic del Montsec (OAdM), located in the town of Sant Esteve de la Sarga (Pallars Jussà), 1,570 meters on the sea level

    Bayfordbury Observatory,approximately 6 miles from the main campus of the University of Hertfordshire

    As the chips hurtle past the celestial bodies at one-fifth the speed of light, they will capture information on their sensors and beam it back to Earth. The journey there will take about 20 years, and the data will take four years to get back to Earth.

    The hope is that it will include intelligence about alien worlds. The laser technology required to blast the chips is still being developed but the clock is ticking; the Milners hope to receive the information about Alpha Centauri within the lifetime of a generation.

    Like James Lick, they may never see the completion of their mission but, as Yuri explains, that is immaterial: “This laser beam will not only send probes to Alpha Centauri, it will continue. The most incredible revelation we realised through calculations is that this beam of light will be the first artefact of our civilisation that can cut across the whole universe. In other words, if there is another galaxy 10 billion light years away, in 10 billion years they will receive it and know that our civilisation existed—even if we don’t exist anymore. It will be something that we will leave behind and will never be erased. If we encode all of our knowledge in this powerful beam of light, it could be our civilisation’s ultimate legacy in the universe.”

    Credits
    Photography: Austin Hargrave | Styling: Tara Nichols | Hair and Make-up: Lisa Strutz | Producer: Joe Daley | Location: Lick Observatory, California

    See the full article here


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    UCO Lick Shane Telescope
    UCO Lick Shane Telescope interior
    Shane Telescope at UCO Lick Observatory, UCSC

    Lick Automated Planet Finder telescope, Mount Hamilton, CA, USA

    Lick Automated Planet Finder telescope, Mount Hamilton, CA, USA

    UC Santa Cruz campus
    The University of California, Santa Cruz, opened in 1965 and grew, one college at a time, to its current (2008-09) enrollment of more than 16,000 students. Undergraduates pursue more than 60 majors supervised by divisional deans of humanities, physical & biological sciences, social sciences, and arts. Graduate students work toward graduate certificates, master’s degrees, or doctoral degrees in more than 30 academic fields under the supervision of the divisional and graduate deans. The dean of the Jack Baskin School of Engineering oversees the campus’s undergraduate and graduate engineering programs.

    UCSC is the home base for the Lick Observatory.

    Lick Observatory's Great Lick 91-centimeter (36-inch) telescope housed in the South (large) Dome of main building
    Lick Observatory’s Great Lick 91-centimeter (36-inch) telescope housed in the South (large) Dome of main building

    Search for extraterrestrial intelligence expands at Lick Observatory
    New instrument scans the sky for pulses of infrared light
    March 23, 2015
    By Hilary Lebow
    1
    The NIROSETI instrument saw first light on the Nickel 1-meter Telescope at Lick Observatory on March 15, 2015. (Photo by Laurie Hatch) UCSC Lick Nickel telescope

    Astronomers are expanding the search for extraterrestrial intelligence into a new realm with detectors tuned to infrared light at UC’s Lick Observatory. A new instrument, called NIROSETI, will soon scour the sky for messages from other worlds.

    “Infrared light would be an excellent means of interstellar communication,” said Shelley Wright, an assistant professor of physics at UC San Diego who led the development of the new instrument while at the University of Toronto’s Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics.

    Wright worked on an earlier SETI project at Lick Observatory as a UC Santa Cruz undergraduate, when she built an optical instrument designed by UC Berkeley researchers. The infrared project takes advantage of new technology not available for that first optical search.

    Infrared light would be a good way for extraterrestrials to get our attention here on Earth, since pulses from a powerful infrared laser could outshine a star, if only for a billionth of a second. Interstellar gas and dust is almost transparent to near infrared, so these signals can be seen from great distances. It also takes less energy to send information using infrared signals than with visible light.

    Frank Drake, professor emeritus of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz and director emeritus of the SETI Institute, said there are several additional advantages to a search in the infrared realm.

    “The signals are so strong that we only need a small telescope to receive them. Smaller telescopes can offer more observational time, and that is good because we need to search many stars for a chance of success,” said Drake.

    The only downside is that extraterrestrials would need to be transmitting their signals in our direction, Drake said, though he sees this as a positive side to that limitation. “If we get a signal from someone who’s aiming for us, it could mean there’s altruism in the universe. I like that idea. If they want to be friendly, that’s who we will find.”

    Scientists have searched the skies for radio signals for more than 50 years and expanded their search into the optical realm more than a decade ago. The idea of searching in the infrared is not a new one, but instruments capable of capturing pulses of infrared light only recently became available.

    “We had to wait,” Wright said. “I spent eight years waiting and watching as new technology emerged.”

    Now that technology has caught up, the search will extend to stars thousands of light years away, rather than just hundreds. NIROSETI, or Near-Infrared Optical Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, could also uncover new information about the physical universe.

    “This is the first time Earthlings have looked at the universe at infrared wavelengths with nanosecond time scales,” said Dan Werthimer, UC Berkeley SETI Project Director. “The instrument could discover new astrophysical phenomena, or perhaps answer the question of whether we are alone.”

    NIROSETI will also gather more information than previous optical detectors by recording levels of light over time so that patterns can be analyzed for potential signs of other civilizations.

    “Searching for intelligent life in the universe is both thrilling and somewhat unorthodox,” said Claire Max, director of UC Observatories and professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz. “Lick Observatory has already been the site of several previous SETI searches, so this is a very exciting addition to the current research taking place.”

    NIROSETI will be fully operational by early summer and will scan the skies several times a week on the Nickel 1-meter telescope at Lick Observatory, located on Mt. Hamilton east of San Jose.

    The NIROSETI team also includes Geoffrey Marcy and Andrew Siemion from UC Berkeley; Patrick Dorval, a Dunlap undergraduate, and Elliot Meyer, a Dunlap graduate student; and Richard Treffers of Starman Systems. Funding for the project comes from the generous support of Bill and Susan Bloomfield.

     
  • richardmitnick 6:53 pm on September 11, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Breakthrough Listen Project, , , , , The notorious repeating fast radio source FRB 121102,   

    From Breakthrough Listen via Science Alert: “Astronomers Have Detected an Astonishing 72 New Mystery Radio Bursts From Space “ 

    From Breakthrough Listen Project

    via

    ScienceAlert

    Science Alert

    11 SEP 2018
    MICHELLE STARR

    A massive number of new signals have been discovered coming from the notorious repeating fast radio source FRB 121102 – and we can thank artificial intelligence for these findings.

    Researchers at the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) project Breakthrough Listen applied machine learning to comb through existing data, and found 72 fast radio bursts that had previously been missed.

    Fast radio bursts (FRBs) are among the most mysterious phenomena in the cosmos. They are extremely powerful, generating as much energy as hundreds of millions of Suns. But they are also extremely short, lasting just milliseconds; and most of them only occur once, without warning.

    This means they can’t be predicted; so it’s not like astronomers are able to plan observations. They are only picked up later in data from other radio observations of the sky.

    Except for one source. FRB 121102 is a special individual – because ever since its discovery in 2012, it has been caught bursting again and again, the only FRB source known to behave this way.

    Because we know FRB 121102 to be a repeating source of FRBs, this means we can try to catch it in the act. This is exactly what researchers at Breakthrough Listen did last year. On 26 August 2017, they pointed the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia at its location for five hours.

    In the 400 terabytes of data from that observation, the researchers discovered 21 FRBs using standard computer algorithms, all from within the first hour. They concluded that the source goes through periods of frenzied activity and quiescence.

    But the powerful new algorithm used to reanalyse that August 26 data suggests that FRB 121102 is a lot more active and possibly complex than originally thought. Researchers trained what is known as a convolutional neural network to look for the signals, then set it loose on the data like a truffle pig.

    It returned triumphant with 72 previously undetected signals, bringing the total number that astronomers have observed from the object to around 300.

    “This work is only the beginning of using these powerful methods to find radio transients,” said astronomer Gerry Zhang of the University of California Berkeley, which runs Breakthrough Listen.

    “We hope our success may inspire other serious endeavours in applying machine learning to radio astronomy.”

    The new result has helped us learn a little more about FRB 121102, putting constraints on the periodicity of the bursts. It suggests that, the researchers said, there’s no pattern to the way we receive them – unless the pattern is shorter than 10 milliseconds.

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Listen

    Breakthrough Listen is the largest ever scientific research program aimed at finding evidence of civilizations beyond Earth. The scope and power of the search are on an unprecedented scale:

    The program includes a survey of the 1,000,000 closest stars to Earth. It scans the center of our galaxy and the entire galactic plane. Beyond the Milky Way, it listens for messages from the 100 closest galaxies to ours.

    The instruments used are among the world’s most powerful. They are 50 times more sensitive than existing telescopes dedicated to the search for intelligence.

    CSIRO/Parkes Observatory, located 20 kilometres north of the town of Parkes, New South Wales, Australia

    UCSC Lick Automated Planet Finder telescope, Mount Hamilton, CA, USA



    GBO radio telescope, Green Bank, West Virginia, USA

    The radio surveys cover 10 times more of the sky than previous programs. They also cover at least 5 times more of the radio spectrum – and do it 100 times faster. They are sensitive enough to hear a common aircraft radar transmitting to us from any of the 1000 nearest stars.

    We are also carrying out the deepest and broadest ever search for optical laser transmissions. These spectroscopic searches are 1000 times more effective at finding laser signals than ordinary visible light surveys. They could detect a 100 watt laser (the energy of a normal household bulb) from 25 trillion miles away.

    Listen combines these instruments with innovative software and data analysis techniques.

    The initiative will span 10 years and commit a total of $100,000,000.

     
  • richardmitnick 6:57 am on September 3, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , Breakthrough Listen Project, , , , ,   

    From The Atlantic via WIRED: “China Built the World’s Largest Telescope. Then Came the Tourists” 

    Atlantic Magazine

    The Atlantic Magazine

    via

    Wired logo

    WIRED

    08.26.18
    Sarah Scoles

    Thousands of people moved[?*] to let China build and protect the world’s largest telescope. And then the government drew in orders of magnitude more tourists, potentially undercutting its own science in an attempt to promote it.

    FAST radio telescope, with phase arrays from Australia [https://sciencesprings.wordpress.com/2017/12/18/from-csiroscope-our-top-telescope-tech-travels-fast/] located in the Dawodang depression in Pingtang County, Guizhou Province, south China

    “I hope we go inside this golf ball,” Sabrina Stierwalt joked as she and a group of other radio astronomers approached what did, in fact, appear to be a giant golf ball in the middle of China’s new Pingtang Astronomy Town.

    Stierwalt was a little drunk, a lot full, even more tired. The nighttime scene felt surreal. But then again, even a sober, well-rested person might struggle to make sense of this cosmos-themed, touristy confection of a metropolis.

    On the group’s walk around town that night, they seemed to traverse the ever-expanding universe. Light from a Saturn-shaped lamp crested and receded, its rings locked into support pillars that appeared to make it levitate. Stierwalt stepped onto a sidewalk, and its panels lit up beneath her feet, leaving a trail of lights behind her like the tail of a meteor. Someone had even brought constellations down to Earth, linking together lights in the ground to match the patterns in the sky.

    1
    The tourist town, about 10 miles from the telescope, lights up at night. Credit Intentionally Withheld

    The day before, Stierwalt had traveled from Southern California to Pingtang Astronomy Town for a conference hosted by scientists from the world’s largest telescope. It was a new designation: China’s Five-Hundred-Meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope, or FAST, had been completed just a year before, in September 2016. Wandering, tipsy, around this shrine to the stars, the 40 or so other foreign astronomers had come to China to collaborate on the superlative-snatching instrument.

    For now, though, they wouldn’t get to see the telescope itself, nestled in a natural enclosure called a karst depression about 10 miles away. First things first: the golf ball.

    As the group got closer, they saw a red carpet unrolled into the entrance of the giant white orb, guarded by iridescent dragons on an inflatable arch. Inside, they buckled up in rows of molded yellow plastic chairs. The lights dimmed. It was an IMAX movie—a cartoon, with an animated narrator. Not the likeness of a person but … what was it? A soup bowl?

    No, Stierwalt realized. It was a clip-art version of the gargantuan telescope itself. Small cartoon FAST flew around big cartoon FAST, describing the monumental feat of engineering just over yonder: a giant geodesic dome shaped out of 4,450 triangular panels, above which receivers collect radio waves from astronomical objects.

    FAST’s dish, nestled into a depression, is made of thousands of triangular panels. located in the Dawodang depression in Pingtang County, Guizhou Province, south China located in the Dawodang depression in Pingtang County, Guizhou Province, south China VCGGetty Images

    China spent $180 million to create the telescope, which officials have repeatedly said will make the country the global leader in radio astronomy. But the local government also spent several times that on this nearby Astronomy Town—hotels, housing, a vineyard, a museum, a playground, classy restaurants, all those themed light fixtures. The government hopes that promoting their scope in this way will encourage tourists and new residents to gravitate to the historically poor Guizhou province.

    It is, in some sense, an experiment into whether this type of science and economic development can coexist. Which is strange, because normally, they purposefully don’t.

    The point of radio telescopes is to sense radio waves from space—gas clouds, galaxies, quasars. By the time those celestial objects’ emissions reach Earth, they’ve dimmed to near-nothingness, so astronomers build these gigantic dishes to pick up the faint signals. But their size makes them particularly sensitive to all radio waves, including those from cell phones, satellites, radar systems, spark plugs, microwaves, Wi-Fi, short circuits, and basically anything else that uses electricity or communicates. Protection against radio-frequency interference, or RFI, is why scientists put their radio telescopes in remote locations: the mountains of West Virginia, the deserts of Chile, the way-outback of Australia.

    FAST’s site used to be remote like that. The country even forcibly relocated thousands of villagers who lived nearby, so their modern trappings wouldn’t interfere with the new prized instrument.

    But then, paradoxically, the government built—just a few miles from the displaced villagers’ demolished houses—this astronomy town. It also plans to increase the permanent population by hundreds of thousands. That’s a lot of cell phones, each of which persistently emits radio waves with around 1 watt of power.

    By the time certain deep-space emissions reach Earth, their power often comes with 24+ zeroes in front: 0.0000000000000000000000001 watts.

    FAST has been in the making for a long time. In the early 2000s, China angled to host the Square Kilometre Array, a collection of coordinated radio antennas whose dishes would be scattered over thousands of miles. But in 2006, the international SKA committee dismissed China, and then chose to set up its distributed mondo-telescope in South Africa and Australia instead.

    Undeterred, Chinese astronomers set out to build their own powerful instrument.

    In 2007, China’s National Development and Reform Commission allocated $90 million for the project, with $90 million more streaming in from other agencies. Four years later, construction began in one of China’s poorest regions, in the karst hills of the southwestern part of the country. They do things fast in China: The team finished the telescope in just five years. In September 2016, FAST received its “first light,” from a pulsar 1,351 light-years away, during its official opening.

    A year later, Stierwalt and the other visiting scientists arrived in Pingtang, and after an evening of touring Astronomy Town, they got down to business.

    See, FAST’s opening had been more ceremony than science (the commissioning phase is officially scheduled to end by September 2019). It was still far from fully operational—engineers are still trying to perfect, for instance, the motors that push and pull its surface into shape, allowing it to point and focus correctly. And the relatively new crop of radio astronomers running the telescope were hungry for advice about how to run such a massive research instrument.

    The visiting astronomers had worked with telescopes that have contributed to understanding of hydrogen emissions, pulsars, powerful bursts, and distant galaxies. But they weren’t just subject experts: Many were logistical wizards, having worked on multiple instruments and large surveys, and with substantial and dispersed teams. Stierwalt studies interacting dwarf galaxies, and while she’s a staff scientist at Caltech/IPAC, she uses telescopes all over. “Each gives a different piece of the puzzle,” she says. Optical telescopes show the stars. Infrared instruments reveal dust and older stars. X-ray observatories pick out black holes. And single-dish radio telescopes like FAST see the bigger picture: They can map out the gas inside of and surrounding galaxies.

    So at the Radio Astronomy Conference, Stierwalt and the other visitors shared how FAST could benefit from their instruments, and vice versa, and talked about how to run big projects. That work had begun even before the participants arrived. “Prior to the meeting, I traveled extensively all over the world to personally meet with the leaders of previous large surveys,” says Marko Krčo, a research fellow who’s been working for the Chinese Academy of Sciences since the summer of 2016.

    He asked the meeting’s speakers, some of those same leaders, to talk about what had gone wrong in their own surveys, and how the interpersonal end had functioned. “How did you organize yourselves?” he says. “How did you work together? How did you communicate?”

    That kind of feedback would be especially important for FAST to accomplish one of its first, appropriately lofty goals: helping astronomers collect signals from many sides of the universe, all at once. They’d call it the Commensal Radio Astronomy FAST Survey, or CRAFTS.

    3
    Above the dish, engineers have suspended instruments that collect cosmic radio waves. Feature China/Barcroft Media/Getty Images

    Most radio astronomical surveys have a single job: Map gas. Find pulsars. Discover galaxies. They do that by collecting signals in a receiver suspended over the dish of a radio telescope, engineered to capture a certain range of frequencies from the cosmos. Normally, the different astronomer factions don’t use that receiver at the same time, because they each take their data differently. But CRAFTS aims to be the first survey that simultaneously collects data for such a broad spectrum of scientists—without having to pause to reconfigure its single receiver.

    CRAFTS has a receiver that looks for signals from 1.04 gigahertz to 1.45 gigahertz, about 10 times higher than your FM radio. Within that range, as part of CRAFTS, scientists could simultaneously look for gas inside and beyond the galaxy, scan for pulsars, watch for mysterious “fast radio bursts,” make detailed maps, and maybe even search for ET. “That sounds straightforward,” says Stierwalt. “Point the telescope. Collect the data. Mine the data.”

    4
    Engineers from FAST and the Australian science agency install the telescope’s CRAFTS receiver. Marko Krčo

    But it’s not easy. Pulsar astronomers want quicktime samples at a wide range of frequencies; hydrogen studiers, meanwhile, don’t need data chunks as often, but they care deeply about the granular frequency details. On top of that, each group adjusts the observations, calibrating them, kind of like you’d make sure your speedometer reads 45 mph when you’re going 45. And they use different kinds of adjustments.

    When we spoke, Krčo had just returned from a trip to Green Bank, where he was testing whether they could set everyone’s speedometer correctly. “I think it will be one of the big sort of legacies of FAST,” says Krčo. And it’s especially important since the National Science Foundation has recently cratered funding to both Arecibo and Green Bank observatories, the United States’ most significant single-dish radio telescopes.


    NAIC Arecibo Observatory, previously the largest radio telescope in the world operated by University of Central Florida, Yang Enterprises and UMET, Altitude 497 m (1,631 ft)

    Green Bank does have financial support, $2 million per year for five years from Yuri Milner’s Breaktrhough Listen Project.

    Breakthrough Listen Project

    1

    Lick Automated Planet Finder telescope, Mount Hamilton, CA, USA



    GBO radio telescope, Green Bank, West Virginia, USA


    CSIRO/Parkes Observatory, located 20 kilometres north of the town of Parkes, New South Wales, Australia

    While they remain open, they have to seek private project money, meaning chunks of time are no longer available for astronomers’ proposals. Adding hours, on a different continent, helps everybody.

    At the end of the conference in Pingtang County, Krčo and his colleagues presented a concrete plan for CRAFTS, giving all the visitors a chance to approve the proposed design. “Each group could raise any red flags, if necessary, regarding their individual science goals or suggest modifications,” says Krčo.

    In addition to the CRAFTS receiver, Krčo says they’ll add six more, sensitive to different frequencies. Together, they will detect radio waves from 70 megahertz to 3 gigahertz. He says they’ll find thousands of new pulsars (as of July 2018, they had already found more than 40), and do detailed studies of hydrogen inside the galaxy and in the wider universe, among numerous other worthy scientific goals.

    “There’s just a hell of a lot of work to do to get there,” says Krčo. “But we’re doing it.”

    For FAST to fulfill its potential, though, Krčo and his colleagues won’t just have to solve engineering problems: They’ll also have to deal with the problems that engineering created.

    During the four-day Radio Astronomy Forum, Stierwalt and the other astronomers did, finally, get to see the actual telescope, taking a bus up a tight, tortuous road through the karst between town and telescope.

    As soon as they arrived on site, they were instructed to shut down their phones to protect the instrument from the radio frequency interference. But not even these astronomers, who want pristine FAST data for themselves, could resist pressing that capture button. “Our sweet, sweet tour guide continually reminded us to please turn off our phones,” says Stierwalt, “but we all kept taking pictures and sneaking them out because no one really seemed to care.” Come on: It’s the world’s largest telescope.

    Maybe their minder stayed lax because a burst here or there wouldn’t make much of a difference in those early days. The number of regular tourists allowed at the site all day is capped at 3,000, to limit RFI, and they have to put their phones in lockers before they go see the dish. Krčo says the site bumps up against the visitor limit most days.

    But tourism and development are complicated for a sensitive scientific instrument. Within three miles of the telescope, the government passed legislation establishing a “radio-quiet zone,” where RFI-emitting devices are severely restricted. No one (not cellular providers or radio broadcasters) can get a transmitting license, and people entering the facility itself will have their electronics confiscated. “No one lives inside the zone, and the area is not open to the general public,” says Krčo, although some with commercial interests, like local farmers, can enter the zone with special permission. The government relocated villagers who lived within that protected area with promises of repayment in cash, housing, and jobs in tourism and FAST support services. (Though a 2016 report in Agence France-Presse revealed that up to 500 relocated families were suing the Pingtang government, alleging “land grabs without compensation, forced demolitions and unlawful detentions.”)

    The country’s Civil Aviation Administration has also adjusted air travel, setting up two restricted flight zones near the scope, canceling two routes, and adding or adjusting three others. “We can still see some RFI from aircraft navigational beacons,” says Krčo. “It’s much less, though, compared to what it’d look like without the adjusted air routes. It’d be impossible to fully clear a large enough air space to create a completely quiet sky.”

    None of the invisible boundaries, after all, function like force fields. RFI that originates from beyond can pass right on through. At least at the five-star tourist hotel, around 10 miles away, there’s Wi-Fi. The tour center, says an American pulsar astronomer, has a direct line of sight to the telescope.

    When Krčo first arrived on the job, he stayed in the astronomy town. “Every morning, we were counting all the new buildings springing up overnight,” Krčo says. “It would be half a dozen.”

    One day, he woke up to a new five-story structure out his window. Couldn’t be, he thought. But he checked a picture he’d taken the day before, and, sure enough, there had been no building in that spot.

    The corn close to town was covered in construction dust. “I’ve never seen anything like that in my whole life,” says Krčo. Today, though, the corn is gone, covered instead in hotels, museums, and shopping centers.

    5
    Before FAST, few large structures existed in this part of China. Feature China/Barcroft Media/Getty Images

    6
    Now, they abound. Liu Xu/Xinhua/Getty Images

    At a press conference in March 2017, Guizhou’s governor declared that the province would build 10,000 kilometers of new highway by 2020, in addition to completing 17 airports and 4,000 kilometers of high-speed train lines. That’s partly to accommodate the hundreds of thousands of people the province expects to relocate here permanently, as well as the tourists. While just those 3,000 people per day will get to visit the telescope itself, there’s no cap on how many can sojourn in Astronomy Town; the deputy director of Guizhou’s reform and development commission, according to China Daily, said it would be “a main astronomical tourism zone worldwide.” “The town has grown incredibly over the last couple of years due to tourism development,” says Krčo. “This has impacted our RFI environment, but not yet to a point where it is unmanageable.”

    Krčo says that geography protects FAST against much of that human interference. “There are a great many mountains between the telescope and the town,” says Krčo. The land blocks the waves, which you’ve seen yourself if you’ve ever tried to pick up NPR in a canyon. But even though the waves can’t go directly into the telescope, Krčo says the team still sees their echoes, reflections beamed down from the atmosphere.

    “People at the visitors’ center have been using cameras and whatnot, and we can see the RFI from that,” he said last November (enforcement seems to have ramped up since then). “During the daytime,” he adds, “our RFI is much worse than nighttime,” largely due to engineers working onsite (that should improve once commissioning is over). But the tourist traps aren’t run and weren’t developed by FAST staff but by various governmental arms—so FAST, really, has no control over what they do.

    The global radio astronomy community has concerns. “I’m absolutely sure that if people are going to bring their toys, then there’s going to be RFI,” says Carla Beaudet, an RFI engineer at Green Bank Observatory, who spends her career trying to help humans see the radio sky despite themselves. Green Bank itself sits in the middle of a strict radio protection zone with a radius of 10 miles, in which there’s no Wi-Fi or even microwaves.

    There are other ways of dealing with RFI—and Krčo says FAST has a permanent team of engineers dedicated to dealing with interference. One solution, which can pick up the strongest contamination, is a small antenna mounted to one of FAST’s support towers. “The idea is that it will observe the same RFI as the big dish,” says Krčo. “Then, in principle, we can remove the RFI from the data in real time.”

    At other telescopes, astronomers are developing machine-learning algorithms that could identify, extract, and compensate for dirty data. All telescopes, after all, have human contamination, even the ones without malls next door. You can’t stop a communications satellite from passing overhead, or a radar beam from bouncing the wrong way across the mountains. And while you can decide not to build a tourist town in the first place, you probably can’t stop a tidal wave of construction once it’s crested.

    In their free evenings at the Radio Astronomy Forum, Stierwalt and the other astronomers wandered through the development. Across from their luxury hotel, workers were constructing a huge mall. It was just scaffolding then, but sparks flew from tools every night. “So the joke was, ‘I wonder if we’ll be able to go shopping at the mall by the end of our trip,’” says Stierwalt.

    At the end of the conference, Stierwalt rode a bus back to the airport, awed by what she’d seen. The karst hills, dipping and rising out the window, looked like those in Puerto Rico, where she had used the 300-meter Arecibo telescope for weeks at a time during her graduate research.

    When she tried to check in for her flight, she didn’t know where to go, what to do. An agent wrote her passport number down wrong.

    A young Chinese man, an astronomer, saw her struggle and approached her. “I’m on your flight,” he said, “and I’ll make sure you get on it.”

    In line after line, they started talking about other things—life, science. “I was describing the astronomy landscape for me,” she says. Never enough jobs, never enough research money, necessary competition with your friends. “For him, it’s very different.”

    He lives in a country that wants to accrete a community of radio astronomers, not winnow one down. A country that wants to support (and promote) ambitious telescopes, rather than defund the ones it has. China isn’t just trying to build a tourist economy around its telescope—it’s also trying to build a scientific culture around radio astronomy.

    That latter part seems like a safe bet. But the first is still uncertain. So is how the tourist economy will affect—for better or worse—FAST’s scientific payoff. “Much like their CRAFTS survey is trying to make everyone happy—all the different kinds of radio astronomers—this will be a true test of ‘Can you make everyone happy?’” says Stierwalt. “Can you make a prosperous astronomy town right next to a telescope that doesn’t want you to be using your phone or your microwave?”

    Right now, nobody knows. But if the speed of everything else in Guizhou is any indication, we’ll all find out fast.

    [* I had previously read, which I cannot any longer back up, that FAST was built in a fortunately found an empty natural bowl in the land. If anyone can correct me, please do]

    See the full article here .

    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

     
  • richardmitnick 9:05 am on October 9, 2017 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Breakthrough Listen Project, , , ,   

    From GBO via Charleston Gazette-Mail: “Gordon Gee: Keep listening (Daily Mail)” 

    gbo-logo

    Green Bank Radio Telescope, West Virginia, USA
    Green Bank Radio Telescope, West Virginia, USA

    gbo-sign

    Green Bank Observatory

    1

    Charleston Gazette-Mail

    Oct 5, 2017
    Gordon Gee

    For six decades now, Green Bank Observatory has been helping to fill in the vast blank spaces on our map of the universe through radio astronomy.

    From detecting the first signal of an organic molecule in space to searching for low frequency gravitational waves from pulsars, Green Bank has been an integral part of radio astronomy and astrophysics research and discovery throughout its existence.

    And for 60 years, West Virginians have celebrated this extraordinary facility. During the state’s centennial in 1963, the silhouette of the original 300-foot Green Bank radio telescope graced a special commemorative license plate. During the statehood quarter design competition in 2003, numerous entries featured the Green Bank Telescope.

    Photos of the facility hang in classrooms and libraries across the state. An effort is underway to add Green Bank to UNESCO’s Astronomy and World Heritage Initiative.

    The facility brings the world to West Virginia and we are proud to showcase our cutting-edge scientific equipment as well as our natural beauty. At the height of the Cold War in 1961, Russian scientists came to Green Bank for a symposium. High school students from every state visit Green Bank every summer as part of the National Youth Science Camp.

    Researchers from institutions around the world rely on the radio telescopes at Green Bank for their work. Thousands of visitors each year enjoy the state-of-the-art Science Center.

    And yes, Green Bank has been and remains a leading center for the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. The search began at Green Bank with Frank Drake and Project Ozma in 1960.

    3
    The 85-foot (26 m) Howard E. Tatel Radio Telescope at NRAO used in the Project Ozma

    Frank Drake

    Drake Equation, Frank Drake, Seti Institute

    [Green Bank Observatory is an integral part of the Breakthrough Listen Project.]

    Breakthrough Listen Project

    1

    Lick Automated Planet Finder telescope, Mount Hamilton, CA, USA



    GBO radio telescope, Green Bank, West Virginia, USA


    CSIRO/Parkes Observatory, located 20 kilometres north of the town of Parkes, New South Wales, Australia

    We are proud of this fact, too, perhaps most of all because of what the search itself represents.

    I think James Gunn, the author of the 1972 science fiction novel The Listeners about radio astronomy and the search for other life in the universe, said it well: “It may be that there is no one out there or if there is someone out there he will never speak to us or we to him, but our listening is an act of faith akin to living itself. If we should stop listening, we would begin dying and we would soon be gone, the world and its people, our technical civilization and even the farmers and peasants, because life is faith, life is commitment. Death is giving up.”

    I have been honored to serve as president of West Virginia University, the state’s flagship, land-grant, research university, on two occasions almost 30 years apart. Based on that experience, I have found West Virginians to be determined, patient, resilient people.

    Perhaps that is why Green Bank resonates so much with us. The monumental task of studying the universe in order to unlock its secrets requires determination, patience, and resilience. Even in the face of technical challenges, mixed signals, and financial setbacks, Green Bank perseveres.

    Residents of West Virginia — a state born from the strife of the Civil War, beset by natural disasters, buffeted by economic downturns — can relate to that. That is why Green Bank is a great symbol for West Virginia.

    As we celebrate this history, the future of Green Bank hangs in the balance. The National Science Foundation is in the midst of decreasing its funding for the facility. As someone immensely proud of Green Bank and its 60 years of scientific research, education, and outreach, I believe we must preserve and expand this essential place and continue its fundamental work.

    Who knows what discoveries the next 60 years may hold? Let us keep listening. We must not give up.

    See the full article here .

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    gbo-science-building

    Mission Statement

    Green Bank Observatory enables leading edge research at radio wavelengths by offering telescope, facility and advanced instrumentation access to the astronomy community as well as to other basic and applied research communities. With radio astronomy as its foundation, the Green Bank Observatory is a world leader in advancing research, innovation, and education.

    History

    60 years ago, the trailblazers of American radio astronomy declared this facility their home, establishing the first ever National Radio Astronomy Observatory within the United States and the first ever national laboratory dedicated to open access science. Today their legacy is alive and well.

     
c
Compose new post
j
Next post/Next comment
k
Previous post/Previous comment
r
Reply
e
Edit
o
Show/Hide comments
t
Go to top
l
Go to login
h
Show/Hide help
shift + esc
Cancel
%d bloggers like this: