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  • richardmitnick 10:22 am on July 26, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "The real science behind SETI’s hunt for intelligent aliens", , , , , , , SETI Institute,   

    From ars technica: “The real science behind SETI’s hunt for intelligent aliens” 

    From ars technica

    7/25/2020
    Madeleine O’Keefe

    1
    Aurich Lawson / Getty

    In 1993, a team of scientists published a paper in the scientific journal Nature that announced the detection of a planet harboring life. Using instruments on the spacecraft Galileo, they imaged the planet’s surface and saw continents with colors “compatible with mineral soils” and agriculture, large expanses of ocean with “spectacular reflection,” and frozen water at the poles.

    NASA/Galileo 1989-2003

    An analysis of the planet’s chemistry revealed an atmosphere with oxygen and methane so abundant that they must come from biological sources. “Galileo found such profound departures from equilibrium that the presence of life seems the most probable cause,” the authors wrote.

    But the most telltale sign of life was measured by Galileo’s spectrogram: radio transmissions from the planet’s surface. “Of all Galileo science measurements, these signals provide the only indication of intelligent, technological life,” wrote the authors.

    The paper’s first author was Carl Sagan, the astronomer, author, and science communicator. The planet that he and his co-authors described was Earth.

    Twenty years later, as far as we can tell, Earth remains the only planet in the Universe with any life, intelligent or otherwise. But that Galileo fly-by of Earth was a case study for future work. It confirmed that modern instruments can give us hints about the presence of life on other planets—including intelligent life. And since then, we’ve dedicated decades of funding and enthusiasm to look for life elsewhere in the Universe.

    But one component of this quest has, for the most part, been overlooked: the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI). This is the field of astronomical research that looks for alien civilizations by searching for indicators of technology called “technosignatures.” Despite strong support from Sagan himself (he even made SETI the focus of his 1985 science-fiction novel Contact, which was turned into a hit movie in 1997 starring Jodie Foster and Matthew McConaughey), funding and support for SETI have been paltry compared to the search for extraterrestrial life in general.

    Throughout SETI’s 60-year history, a stalwart group of astronomers has managed to keep the search alive. Today, this cohort is stronger than ever, though they are mostly ignored by the research community, largely unfunded by NASA, and dismissed by some astronomers as a campy fringe pursuit. After decades of interest and funding dedicated toward the search for biological life, there are tentative signs that SETI is making a resurgence.

    At a time when we’re in the process of building hardware that should be capable of finding signatures of life (intelligent or otherwise) in the atmospheres of other planets, SETI astronomers simply want a seat at the table. The stakes are nothing less than the question of our place in the Universe.

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    The Arecibo Radio Telescope on Puerto Rico [recently unfunded by NSF and now picked up by UCF and a group of funders] receives interplanetary signals and transmissions. And it was in the movie Contact!

    How to search for life on other worlds

    You may have heard of searching for life on other planets by looking for “biosignatures”—molecules or phenomena that would only occur or persist if life were present. These could be microbes discovered by directly sampling material from the planet (known as “in-situ sampling”) or using spectroscopic biosignatures, like chemical disequilibria in the atmosphere and images of water and agriculture, like those detected by the Galileo probe in 1990.

    The biosignature search is happening now, but it comes with limitations. In-situ sampling requires sending a spacecraft to another planet; we’ve done this, for example, with rovers sent to Mars and the Cassini spacecraft that sampled plumes of water erupting from Saturn’s moon Enceladus. And while in-situ sampling is the ideal option for planets in the Solar System, with our current technology, it will take millennia to get a vehicle to a planet orbiting a different star—and these exoplanets are far, far more numerous.

    To detect spectroscopic biosignatures we will need telescopes like the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) or the ground-based Extremely Large Telescope, both currently under construction.

    NASA/ESA/CSA Webb Telescope annotated

    ESO/E-ELT, 39 meter telescope to be on top of Cerro Armazones in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile. located at the summit of the mountain at an altitude of 3,060 metres (10,040 ft).

    To directly image an exoplanet and obtain more definitive spectra will require future missions like LUVOIR (Large Ultraviolet Optical Infrared Surveyor) or the Habitable Exoplanet Imaging Mission. But all of these lie a number of years in the future.

    NASA Large UV Optical Infrared Surveyor (LUVOIR)

    NASA Habitable Exoplanet Imaging Mission (HabEx) The Planet Hunter depiction

    SETI researchers, however, are interested in “technosignatures”—biosignatures that indicate intelligent life. They are signals that could only come from technology, including TV and radio transmitters—like the radio transmission detected by the Galileo spacecraft—planetary radar systems, or high-power lasers.

    The first earnest call to search for technosignatures—and SETI’s formal beginning—came in 1959. That was the year that Cornell University physicists Giuseppe Cocconi and Philip Morrison published a landmark paper in Nature outlining the most likely characteristics of alien communication. It would make the most sense, they postulated, for aliens to communicate across interstellar distances using electromagnetic waves since they are the only media known to travel fast enough to conceivably reach us across vast distances of space. Within the electromagnetic spectrum, Cocconi and Morrison determined that it would be most promising to look for radio waves because they are less likely to be absorbed by planetary atmospheres and require less energy to transmit. Specifically, they proposed a narrowband signal around the frequency at which hydrogen atoms emit radiation—a frequency that should be familiar to any civilization with advanced radio technology.

    What’s special about these signals is that they exhibit high degrees of coherence, meaning there is a large amount of electromagnetic energy in just one frequency or a very small instance of time—not something nature typically does.

    “As far as we know, these kinds of [radio] signals would be unmistakable indicators of technology,” says Andrew Siemion, professor of astronomy at the University of California, Berkeley. “We don’t know of any natural source that produces them.”

    Such a signal was detected on August 18, 1977 by the Ohio State University Radio Observatory, known as “Big Ear.”

    Ohio State Big Ear Radio Telescope, Construction of the Big Ear began in 1956 and was completed in 1961, and it was finally turned on for the first time in 1963

    Astronomy professor Jerry Ehman was analyzing Big Ear data in the form of printouts that, to the untrained eye, looked like someone had simply smashed the number row of a typewriter with a preference for lower digits. Numbers and letters in the Big Ear data indicated, essentially, the intensity of the electromagnetic signal picked up by the telescope, starting at 1 and moving up to letters in the double-digits (A was 10, B was 11, and so on). Most of the page was covered in 1s and 2s, with a stray 6 or 7 sprinkled in.

    But that day, Ehman found an anomaly: 6EQUJ5. This signal had started out at an intensity of 6—already an outlier on the page—climbed to E, then Q, peaked at U—the highest power signal Big Ear had ever seen—then decreased again. Ehman circled the sequence in red pen and wrote “Wow!” next to it.

    Alas, SETI researchers have never been able to detect the so-called “Wow! Signal” again, despite many tries with radio telescopes around the world. To this day, no one knows the source of the Wow! Signal, and it remains one of the strongest candidates for alien transmission ever detected.

    NASA began funding SETI studies in 1975, a time when the idea of extraterrestrial life was still unthinkable, according to former NASA Chief Historian Steven J. Dick. After all, no one then knew if there were even other planets outside our Solar System, much less life.

    In 1992, NASA made its strongest-ever commitment to SETI, pledging $100 million over ten years to fund the High Resolution Microwave Survey (HRMS), an expansive SETI project led by astrophysicist Jill Tarter.

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    Jill Tarter

    One of today’s most prominent SETI researchers, Tarter was the inspiration for the protagonist of Sagan’s Contact, Eleanor Arroway.

    But less than a year after HRMS got underway, Congress abruptly canceled the project. “The Great Martian Chase may finally come to an end,” said Senator Richard Bryan of Nevada, one of its most vocal detractors. “As of today, millions have been spent and we have yet to bag a single little green fellow. Not a single Martian has said take me to your leader, and not a single flying saucer has applied for FAA approval.”

    The whole ordeal was “incredibly traumatic,” says Tarter. “It [the removal of funding] was so vindictive that, in fact, we became the four-letter S-word that you couldn’t say at NASA headquarters for decades.”

    Since that humiliating public reprimand by Congress, NASA’s astrobiology division has been largely focused on searching for biosignatures. And it has made sure to distinguish its current work from SETI, going so far as to say in a 2015 report that “the traditional Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence… is not a part of astrobiology.”

    Despite or because of this, the SETI community quickly regrouped and headed to the private sector for funding. Out of those efforts came Project Phoenix, rising from the ashes of the HRMS. From February 1995 to March 2004, Phoenix scanned about 800 nearby candidate stars for microwave transmission in three separate campaigns with the Parkes Observatory in New South Wales, Australia; the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank, West Virginia; and Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico [above].

    CSIRO/Parkes Observatory, located 20 kilometres north of the town of Parkes, New South Wales, Australia, 414.80m above sea level

    Green Bank Radio Telescope, West Virginia, USA, now the center piece of the GBO, Green Bank Observatory, being cut loose by the NSF

    The project did not find any signs of E.T., but it was considered the most comprehensive and sensitive SETI program ever conducted.

    At the same time, other projects run by the Planetary Society and UC Berkeley (including a project called SERENDIP, which is still active) carried out SETI experiments and found a handful of anomalous radio signals, but none showed up a second time.

    To search or not to search

    There is plenty of understandable skepticism surrounding the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. At first glance, one might reason that biosignatures are more common than technosignatures and therefore easier to detect. After all, complex life takes a long time to develop and so is probably rarer. But as astronomer and SETI researcher Jason Wright points out, “Slimes and fungus and molds and things are extremely hard to detect [on an exoplanet]. They’re not doing anything to get your attention. They’re not commanding energy resources that might be obvious at interstellar distances.”

    Linda Billings, a communications consultant for NASA’s Astrobiology Division, is not so convinced that SETI is worth it. She worked with SETI in the early 1990s when it was still being funded by the space agency.

    “I felt like there was a resistance to providing a realistic depiction of the SETI search, of how limited it is, how little of our own galaxy that we are capable of detecting in radio signals,” Billings says.

    While she supports NASA’s biosignature searches, she feels that there are too many assumptions embedded into the idea that intelligent aliens would emit signals that we can intercept and understand, so the likelihood of successfully detecting technosignatures is too low.

    What is the likelihood of encountering extraterrestrial intelligence? Astronomers have thought about this question and have even tried to quantify it, most famously in the Drake equation, introduced by radio astronomer Frank Drake in 1961. The equation estimates the number of active and communicative alien civilizations in the Milky Way galaxy by considering seven factors:

    Frank Drake with his Drake Equation. Credit Frank Drake

    Drake Equation, Frank Drake, Seti Institute

    Since these values have been largely conjectural, the Drake equation has served as more of a thought exercise than a precise calculation of probability. But SETI skeptics reason that the equation’s huge uncertainties render the search futile until we know more.

    Plus, the question remains as to whether we are looking the “right” way. By assuming aliens will transmit radio waves, SETI researchers also assume that alien civilizations must have intelligence similar to humans’. But intelligence—like life—could develop elsewhere in ways we can’t possibly imagine. So for some, the small chance that aliens are sending out radio transmissions isn’t enough to justify the search.

    Seth Shostak, senior astronomer at the SETI Institute, defended the radio approach in a blog post honoring Frank Drake’s 90th birthday earlier this year. “…[A] search for radio transmissions is not a parochial enterprise,” he wrote. “It doesn’t assume that the aliens are like us in any particular, only that they live in the same Universe, with the same physics.”

    SETI researchers can also cast a much wider net with their radio searches: Optical telescopes looking for biosignatures can only resolve data from exoplanets within a few tens of light-years, totaling to no more than 100 tractable targets. But existing radio observatories, like those at Green Bank and in Arecibo, can detect signals as far as 10,000 light-years away, producing 10-million more targets than biosignature search methods.

    The SETI community has no desire to stop the search for biosignatures. “Technosignatures and biosignatures both lie under the same umbrella that we call ‘astrobiology,’ so we are trying to learn from each other,” says Tarter.

    The current state of SETI

    Since the 1990s, new discoveries have strengthened the case to search for technosignatures. For example, NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope has identified over 4,000 exoplanets, and Kepler data suggest that half of all stars may harbor Earth-sized exoplanets, many of which may be the right distance from their stars to be conducive to life.

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

    NASA/MIT TESS replaced Kepler in search for exoplanets

    Plus, the discovery of extremophiles—organisms that can grow and thrive in extreme temperature, acidity, or pressure—has shown astrobiologists that life exists in environments previously assumed to be inhospitable.

    But of the two arms of the search for life, SETI is still up against a perception problem—what some call a “giggle factor.” What does it take for SETI to be taken seriously? There are some indications that the perception problem is solving itself, albeit slowly.

    In 2015, SETI got a much-needed injection of cash—and faith—when Russian-born billionaire Yuri Milner pledged $100 million over 10 years to form the Breakthrough Initiatives, including Breakthrough Listen, a SETI project based at UC Berkeley and directed by Andrew Siemion.

    Breakthrough Listen Project

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    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)

    As the name suggests, Breakthrough Listen’s goal is to listen for signs of intelligent life. Breakthrough Listen has access to more than a dozen facilities around the world, including the NRAO in Green Bank, the Arecibo Observatory, and the MeerKAT radio telescope in South Africa.

    A few years later in 2018, NASA—prodded by SETI fan and Texas Congressman Lamar Smith—hosted a technosignatures workshop at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, Texas. Over the course of three days, SETI scientists including Wright and Siemion met and discussed the current state of technosignature searches and how NASA could contribute to the field’s future. But Smith retired from Congress that same year, which put SETI’s future with federal funding back into question.

    In March 2019, Pennsylvania State University announced the new Penn State Extraterrestrial Intelligence Center (PSETI)—to be led by Wright, who is an associate professor of astronomy and astrophysics at the school. One of just two astrobiology PhD programs in the world (the other is at UCLA), PSETI plans on hosting the first Penn State SETI Symposium in June 2021.

    Some of PSETI’s main goals are to permanently fund SETI research worldwide, train the next generation of SETI practitioners, and support and foster a worldwide SETI community. These elements are important to any scientific endeavor but are currently lacking in the small field, even with initiatives like Breakthrough Listen. According to a recent white paper, only five people in the US have ever earned a PhD with SETI as the focus of their dissertations, and that number won’t be growing rapidly any time soon.

    “If you can’t propose for grants to work on a topic, it’s really difficult to convince young graduate students and postdocs to work in the field, because they don’t really see a future in it,” says Siemion.

    Tarter agrees that community and funding are the essential ingredients to SETI’s future. “We sort of lost a generation of scientists and engineers in this fallow period where a few of us could manage to keep this going,” she says. “A really well-educated, larger population of young exploratory scientists—and a stable path to allow them to pursue this large question into the future—is what we need.”

    Wright often calls SETI low-hanging fruit. “This field has been starved of resources for so long that there is still a ton of work to do that could have been done decades ago,” says Wright. “We can very quickly make a lot of progress in this field without a lot of effort.” This is made clear in Wright’s SETI graduate course at Penn State, in which his students’ final projects have sometimes become papers that get published in peer-reviewed journals—something that rarely happens in any other field of astronomy.

    In February 2020, Penn State graduate student Sofia Sheikh submitted a paper to The Astrophysical Journal outlining a survey of 20 stars in the “restricted Earth Transit Zone,” the area of the sky in which an observer on another planet could see Earth pass in front of the sun. Sheikh didn’t find any technosignatures in the direction of those 20 stars, but her paper is one of a number of events in the past year that seem to signal the resurgence of SETI.

    In July 2019, Breakthrough Listen announced a collaboration with VERITAS, an array of gamma-ray telescopes in Arizona [above]. VERITAS agreed to spend 30 hours per year looking at Breakthrough Listen’s targets for signs of extraterrestrial intelligence starting in 2021. Breakthrough Listen also announced, in March 2020, that it will soon partner with the NRAO to use the Very Large Array (VLA), an array of radio telescopes in Socorro, New Mexico.

    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)

    (Coincidentally, the VLA was featured in the film Contact but was never actually used in SETI research.)

    And there are other forthcoming projects that take advantage of alternate avenues to search. Optical SETI instruments, like PANOSETI, will look for bright pulses in optical or near-infrared light that could be artificial in origin. Similarly, LaserSETI will use inexpensive, wide-field, astronomical grade cameras to probe the whole sky, all the time, for brief flickers of laser light coming from deep space. However, neither PANOSETI nor LaserSETI are fully funded.

    Panoseti

    LASERSETi

    Just last month, though, NASA did award a grant to a group of scientists to search for technosignatures. It is the first time NASA has given funding to a non-radio technosignature search, and it’s also the first grant to support work at PSETI. The project team, led by Adam Frank from the University of Rochester, includes Jason Wright.

    “It’s a great sign that the winds are changing at NASA,” Wright said in an email. He credits NASA’s 2018 technosignatures workshop as a catalyst that led NASA to relax its stance against SETI research. “We have multiple proposals in to NASA right now to do more SETI work across its science portfolio and I’m more optimistic now that it will be fairly judged against the rest of the proposals.”

    Despite all the obstacles in their path, today’s SETI researchers have no plans to stop searching. After all, they are trying to answer one of the most profound and captivating questions in the entire Universe: are we alone?

    “You can certainly get a little tired and a little beat down by the challenges associated with any kind of job. We’re certainly not immune from that in SETI or in astronomy,” admits Siemion. “But you need only take 30 seconds to just contemplate the fact that you’re potentially on the cusp of making really an incredibly profound discovery—a discovery that would forever change the human view of our place in the universe. And, you know, it gets you out of bed.”

    SETI Institute

    Laser SETI, the future of SETI Institute research

    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 origins of the Institute’s search.

    ____________________________________________________

    Further to the story

    UCSC alumna Shelley Wright, now an assistant professor of physics at UC San Diego, discusses the dichroic filter of the NIROSETI instrument, developed at the Dunlap Institute, U Toronto and brought to UCSD and installed at the Nickel telescope at UCSC (Photo by Laurie Hatch)

    Shelley Wright of UC San Diego, with NIROSETI, developed at Dunlap Institute U Toronto, at the 1-meter Nickel Telescope at Lick Observatory at UC Santa Cruz

    NIROSETI team from left to right Rem Stone UCO Lick Observatory Dan Werthimer UC Berkeley Jérôme Maire U Toronto, Shelley Wright UCSD Patrick Dorval, U Toronto Richard Treffers Starman Systems. (Image by Laurie Hatch)

    LASERSETI

    And separately and not connected to the SETI Institute

    SETI@home a BOINC project based at UC Berkeley


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


    For transparency, I am a financial supporter of the SETI Institute. I was a BOINC cruncher for many years.

    My BOINC

    I am also a financial supporter of UC Santa Cruz and Dunlap Institute at U Toronto.

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Ars Technica was founded in 1998 when Founder & Editor-in-Chief Ken Fisher announced his plans for starting a publication devoted to technology that would cater to what he called “alpha geeks”: technologists and IT professionals. Ken’s vision was to build a publication with a simple editorial mission: be “technically savvy, up-to-date, and more fun” than what was currently popular in the space. In the ensuing years, with formidable contributions by a unique editorial staff, Ars Technica became a trusted source for technology news, tech policy analysis, breakdowns of the latest scientific advancements, gadget reviews, software, hardware, and nearly everything else found in between layers of silicon.

    Ars Technica innovates by listening to its core readership. Readers have come to demand devotedness to accuracy and integrity, flanked by a willingness to leave each day’s meaningless, click-bait fodder by the wayside. The result is something unique: the unparalleled marriage of breadth and depth in technology journalism. By 2001, Ars Technica was regularly producing news reports, op-eds, and the like, but the company stood out from the competition by regularly providing long thought-pieces and in-depth explainers.

    And thanks to its readership, Ars Technica also accomplished a number of industry leading moves. In 2001, Ars launched a digital subscription service when such things were non-existent for digital media. Ars was also the first IT publication to begin covering the resurgence of Apple, and the first to draw analytical and cultural ties between the world of high technology and gaming. Ars was also first to begin selling its long form content in digitally distributable forms, such as PDFs and eventually eBooks (again, starting in 2001).

     
  • richardmitnick 12:52 pm on June 24, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Could Debris Discs Around Young Stars Provide Clues About How Planets Formed in Our Solar System?", , , , , If you dial back the clock for our own solar system by 4.5 billion years which one of these disks were we?, One of the things we found is that these so-called disks are really rings with inner clearings., SETI Institute   

    From SETI Institute: “Could Debris Discs Around Young Stars Provide Clues About How Planets Formed in Our Solar System?” 


    SETI Logo new
    From SETI Institute

    Jun 24, 2020

    1
    Six of the 26 circumstellar disks from the Gemini Planet Imager survey, highlighting the diversity of shapes and sizes these disks can take and showing the outer reaches of star systems in their formative years. (Image by the International Gemini Observatory, NOIRLab, NSF, AURA and Tom Esposito, UC Berkeley. Image processing by Travis Recto, University of Alaska Anchorage, Mahdi Zamani and Davide de Martin.)
    Images Credit: International Gemini Observatory/NOIRLab/NSF/AURA/T. Esposito (UC Berkeley) Image processing: Travis Rector (University of Alaska Anchorage), Mahdi Zamani & Davide de Martin

    Researchers from the University of California Berkeley and other organizations including the SETI Institute released the largest collection of images showing debris discs around young stars, providing a glimpse of what our solar system might have looked like when its planets were forming. The images were part of data collected over four years by the Gemini Planet Imager (GPI), located on the Gemini South Telescope in Chile.

    NOAO Gemini Planet Imager on Gemini South

    Gemini/South telescope, Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO) campus near La Serena, Chile, at an altitude of 7200 feet

    Like the icy debris the Kuiper Belt on the outer edge of our solar system, the images show 26 Kuiper Belt analogs, seven of which were previously unknown. One hundred four stars were observed, with 75 having no disk that GPI could detect.

    “One of the things we found is that these so-called disks are really rings with inner clearings,” said lead author of the paper describing the results in The Astronomical Journal, Thomas Esposito, who is a researcher at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California. “GPI had a clear view of the inner regions close to the star, whereas in the past, observations by the Hubble Space Telescope and older instruments from the ground couldn’t see close enough to the star to see the hole around it.”

    “If you dial back the clock for our own solar system by 4.5 billion years, which one of these disks were we? Were we a narrow ring, or were we a fuzzy blob?” Esposito said. “It would be great to know what we looked like back then to understand our own origins. That is the great unanswered question.”

    Video: Images of Dusty Star Systems Revealed by the Gemini Planet Imager

    Images of Dusty Star Systems Revealed by the Gemini Planet Imager Animation of the Solar System and moving outward to indicate stars observed with the Gemini Planet Imager (GPI) mounted on the Gemini South telescope in Chile. Highlighted are the images of the dusty rings encircling some of these young stars. More than 100 researchers have contributed to GPI and the GPI Exoplanet Survey, whose work is highlighted in this video. The work was supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and NASA. Created by Jenny Patience and Ric Alling, Arizona State University, with scientific input from Justin Hom (ASU), Paul Kalas (UC Berkeley), Tom Esposito (UC Berkeley) and Franck Marchis (SETI Institute).

    One of the co-authors, Franck Marchis, Senior Planetary Astronomer at the SETI Institute, reflected on the end of the 4-year Gemini Planet Imager Exoplanet Survey (GPIES). “ More than 100 scientists, worked for almost two decades on this project from instrument development to publication of the scientific results like this one. Several graduate students who started the Ph.D. on this project are now researchers or professors at research institutes across the world. GPIES has created a strong generation of exoplanetary astronomers to work on future projects like GPI2.0 in Hawaii, but also ambitious space telescopes like Project Blue, the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope, and the future LUVOIR/HabEx space telescopes. It’s very likely that one of these telescopes will one day photograph another Pale Blue Dot, an Earth-like exoplanet, and that’s the true legacy of GPI Exoplanet survey.”

    In addition to Esposito and Marchis, two additional SETI Institute scientists were among the GPIES researchers, Paul Kalas and Eric Nielsen.

    The full press release detailing the results of the research can be found here.

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    SETI Institute


    About the SETI Institute
    What is life? How does it begin? Are we alone? These are some of the questions we ask in our quest to learn about and share the wonders of the universe. At the SETI Institute we have a passion for discovery and for passing knowledge along as scientific ambassadors.

    The SETI Institute is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit scientific research institute headquartered in Mountain View, California. We are a key research contractor to NASA and the National Science Foundation (NSF), and we collaborate with industry partners throughout Silicon Valley and beyond.

    Founded in 1984, the SETI Institute employs more than 130 scientists, educators, and administrative staff. Work at the SETI Institute is anchored by three centers: the Carl Sagan Center for the Study of Life in the Universe (research), the Center for Education and the Center for Outreach.

    The SETI Institute welcomes philanthropic support from individuals, private foundations, corporations and other groups to support our education and outreach initiatives, as well as unfunded scientific research and fieldwork.

    A Special Thank You to SETI Institute Partners and Collaborators
    • Campoalto, Chile, NASA Ames Research Center, NASA Headquarters, National Science Foundation, Aerojet Rocketdyne,SRI International

    Frontier Development Lab Partners
    • Breakthrough Prize Foundation, European Space Agency, Google Cloud, IBM, Intel, KBRwyle. Kx Lockheed Martin, NASA Ames Research Center, Nvidia, SpaceResources Luxembourg, XPrize

    In-kind Service Providers
    • Gunderson Dettmer – General legal services, Hello Pilgrim – Website Design and Development Steptoe & Johnson – IP legal services, Danielle Futselaar

    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)

    SETI Institute – 189 Bernardo Ave., Suite 100
    Mountain View, CA 94043
    Phone 650.961.6633 – Fax 650-961-7099
    Privacy PolicyQuestions and Comments

    Also in the hunt, but not a part of the SETI Institute

    “Martian Moon’s Orbit Hints at an Ancient Ring of Mars”

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

    BOINCLarge

    BOINC is a leader in the field(s) of Distributed Computing, Grid Computing and Citizen Cyberscience.BOINC is more properly the Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing, developed at UC Berkeley.

     
  • richardmitnick 11:33 am on June 3, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Martian Moon’s Orbit Hints at an Ancient Ring of Mars", , , , , , SETI Institute   

    From SETI Institute: “Martian Moon’s Orbit Hints at an Ancient Ring of Mars” 


    SETI Logo new
    From SETI Institute

    1
    Photo credit: https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/moons/mars-moons/deimos/in-depth/

    Scientists from the SETI Institute and Purdue University have found that the only way to produce Deimos’s unusually tilted orbit is for Mars to have had a ring billions of years ago. While some of the more massive planets in our solar system have giant rings and numerous big moons, Mars only has two small, misshapen moons, Phobos and Deimos. Although these moons are small, their peculiar orbits hide important secrets about their past.

    For a long time, scientists believed that Mars’s two moons, discovered in 1877, were captured asteroids. However, since their orbits are almost in the same plane as Mars’s equator, that the moons must have formed at the same time as Mars. But the orbit of the smaller, more distant moon Deimos is tilted by two degrees.

    “The fact that Deimos’s orbit is not exactly in plane with Mars’s equator was considered unimportant, and nobody cared to try to explain it,” says lead author Matija Ćuk, a research scientist at the SETI Institute. “But once we had a big new idea and we looked at it with new eyes, Deimos’s orbital tilt revealed its big secret.”

    This significant new idea was put forward in 2017 by Ćuk’s co-author David Minton, professor at Purdue University and his then-graduate student Andrew Hesselbrock. Hesselbrock and Minton noted that Mars’s inner moon, Phobos, is losing height as its tiny gravity is interacting with the looming Martian globe. Soon, in astronomical terms, Phobos’s orbit will drop too low, and Mars’s gravity will pull it apart to make a ring around the planet. Hesselbrock and Minton proposed that over billions of years, generations of Martian moons were destroyed into rings. Each time, the ring would then give rise to a new, smaller moon to repeat the cycle over again.

    This cyclic Martian moon theory has one crucial element that makes Deimos’s tilt possible: a newborn moon would move away from the ring and Mars. Which is in the opposite direction from the inward spiral Phobos is experiencing due to gravitational interactions with Mars. An outward-migrating moon just outside the rings can encounter a so-called orbital resonance, in which Deimos’s orbital period is three times that of the other moon.

    These orbital resonances are picky but predictable about the direction in which they are crossed. We can tell that only an outward-moving moon could have strongly affected Deimos, which means that Mars must have had a ring pushing the inner moon outward. Ćuk and collaborators deduce that this moon may have been 20 times as massive as Phobos, and may have been its “grandparent” existing just over 3 billion years ago, which was followed by two more ring-moon cycles, with the latest moon being Phobos.

    This insight from a modest tilt of a humble moon’s orbit has some significant consequences for our understanding of Mars and its moons. The discovery of the past orbital resonance all but clinches the cyclic ring-moon theory for Mars. It implies that for much of its history, Mars possessed a prominent ring. While Deimos is billions of years old, Ćuk and collaborators believe Phobos is young as astronomical objects go, forming maybe only 200 million years ago, just in time for the dinosaurs.

    These theories may be up for some serious testing in a few years, as Japanese space agency JAXA plans to send a spacecraft to Phobos in 2024, which would collect samples from the moon’s surface and bring them back to Earth. Ćuk is hopeful that this will give us firm answers about the murky past of the Martian moons: “I do theoretical calculations for a living, and they are good, but getting them tested against the real world now and then is even better.”

    This research is presented at the 236th Meeting of the American Astronomical Society, held virtually on June 1-3, 2020, and is accepted for publication in The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    SETI Institute


    About the SETI Institute
    What is life? How does it begin? Are we alone? These are some of the questions we ask in our quest to learn about and share the wonders of the universe. At the SETI Institute we have a passion for discovery and for passing knowledge along as scientific ambassadors.

    The SETI Institute is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit scientific research institute headquartered in Mountain View, California. We are a key research contractor to NASA and the National Science Foundation (NSF), and we collaborate with industry partners throughout Silicon Valley and beyond.

    Founded in 1984, the SETI Institute employs more than 130 scientists, educators, and administrative staff. Work at the SETI Institute is anchored by three centers: the Carl Sagan Center for the Study of Life in the Universe (research), the Center for Education and the Center for Outreach.

    The SETI Institute welcomes philanthropic support from individuals, private foundations, corporations and other groups to support our education and outreach initiatives, as well as unfunded scientific research and fieldwork.

    A Special Thank You to SETI Institute Partners and Collaborators
    • Campoalto, Chile, NASA Ames Research Center, NASA Headquarters, National Science Foundation, Aerojet Rocketdyne,SRI International

    Frontier Development Lab Partners
    • Breakthrough Prize Foundation, European Space Agency, Google Cloud, IBM, Intel, KBRwyle. Kx Lockheed Martin, NASA Ames Research Center, Nvidia, SpaceResources Luxembourg, XPrize

    In-kind Service Providers
    • Gunderson Dettmer – General legal services, Hello Pilgrim – Website Design and Development Steptoe & Johnson – IP legal services, Danielle Futselaar

    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)

    SETI Institute – 189 Bernardo Ave., Suite 100
    Mountain View, CA 94043
    Phone 650.961.6633 – Fax 650-961-7099
    Privacy PolicyQuestions and Comments

    Also in the hunt, but not a part of the SETI Institute


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

    BOINCLarge

    BOINC is a leader in the field(s) of Distributed Computing, Grid Computing and Citizen Cyberscience.BOINC is more properly the Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing, developed at UC Berkeley.

     
  • richardmitnick 12:16 pm on April 14, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "New Technologies, , , , , , SETI Institute, Strategies Expanding Search for Extraterrestrial Life"   

    From National Radio Astronomy Observatory: “New Technologies, Strategies Expanding Search for Extraterrestrial Life” 

    From National Radio Astronomy Observatory

    NRAO Banner

    February 11, 2020 [Just found this]

    1

    Emerging technologies and new strategies are opening a revitalized era in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI). New discovery capabilities, along with the rapidly-expanding number of known planets orbiting stars other than the Sun, are spurring innovative approaches by both government and private organizations, according to a panel of experts speaking at a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Seattle, Washington.

    New approaches will not only expand upon but also go beyond the traditional SETI technique of searching for intelligently-generated radio signals, first pioneered by Frank Drake’s Project Ozma in 1960. Scientists now are designing state-of-the-art techniques to detect a variety of signatures that can indicate the possibility of extraterrestrial technologies. Such “technosignatures” can range from the chemical composition of a planet’s atmosphere, to laser emissions, to structures orbiting other stars, among others.

    The National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) and the privately-funded SETI Institute announced an agreement to collaborate on new systems to add SETI capabilities to radio telescopes operated by NRAO. The first project will develop a system to piggyback on the National Science Foundation’s Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) that will provide data to a state-of-the-art technosignature search system.

    ___________________________________________________________

    2

    Dave Finley, Public Information Officer
    (575) 835-7302
    dfinley@nrao.edu

    The National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) and the SETI Institute have agreed to collaborate on a broad range of future scientific and technical projects in radio astronomy and related research. Initial efforts under the agreement will be focused on developing capabilities for the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) on radio telescopes operated by NRAO.

    The two organizations will collaborate to develop and install a signal processing system on the National Science Foundation’s Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) that will analyze data collected by that telescope to identify transmissions possibly generated by extraterrestrial technologies. This system — dubbed COSMIC: the Commensal Open Source Multimode Interferometer Cluster — will receive data from a newly-developed parallel Ethernet interface to the VLA, using the same data stream used for other research but analyzed in parallel by COSMIC.

    “This plan will allow an additional, important use for the data we’re already collecting,” said NRAO Director Tony Beasley. “In addition to addressing one of the most profound questions in science, this system also may advance our capabilities in other areas of science, such as detecting Fast Radio Bursts, as well as produce improvements in detecting and excising radio interference from our observations,” Beasley added.

    The first step in realizing the new system will be to develop and install a wide-bandwidth Ethernet interface to the VLA’s current signal distribution system. This first phase of the project has been funded by John and Carol Giannandrea. John Giannandrea is a Trustee of the SETI Institute.

    Dr. Jack Hickish, of the SETI Institute and Real-Time Radio Systems Limited, who is leading development of the COSMIC system, said, “When the VLA digital instrumentation was originally conceived, the idea that astronomers could be provided with access to every bit of the data flowing through the system was laughable. An enormous amount of design expertise and engineering went into building custom hardware to reduce terabits-per-second of data to a rate which scientists could analyze effectively. Once the COSMIC interface is complete, the door will open to perform essentially arbitrary types of signal analysis, helping to further cement the VLA’s history as one of the world’s most productive, powerful, and versatile radio telescopes.”

    The NRAO is developing the concept for a next-generation VLA (ngVLA), which would dramatically advance radio astronomy beyond current capabilities. The SETI Institute desires to engage as a technical and scientific partner in this project. Specifically, NRAO and the SETI Institute will begin discussions on how to design relevant ngVLA systems so that they will allow leading-edge SETI research on that advanced facility.

    “Our observatory and the SETI Institute are both strongly committed to advancing science and technology, and we have many common interests in radio astronomy and related areas. This agreement, and the collaborations it will foster, will not only open new areas of research but also, we believe, help improve our technologies and make our telescopes more effective scientific tools,” Beasley said.

    “As the VLA conducts its usual scientific observations, this new system will allow for an additional and important use for the data we’re already collecting,” said NRAO Director Tony Beasley. “Determining whether we are alone in the Universe as technologically capable life is among the most compelling questions in science, and NRAO telescopes can play a major role in answering it,” Beasley continued.

    “The SETI Institute will develop and install an interface on the VLA permitting unprecedented access to the rich data stream continuously produced by the telescope as it scans the sky,” said Andrew Siemion, Bernard M. Oliver Chair for SETI at the SETI Institute and Principal Investigator for the Breakthrough Listen Initiative at the University of California, Berkeley. “This interface will allow us to conduct a powerful, wide-area SETI survey that will be vastly more complete than any previous such search,” he added.

    Siemion highlighted the singular role the $100-million Breakthrough Listen Initiative has played in reinvigorating the field of SETI in recent years.

    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)

    Siemion also announced the latest scientific results from Listen, a SETI survey in the direction of stars where a distant civilization could observe the Earth’s passage across the sun, and the availability of nearly 2 PetaBytes of data from the Listen Initiative’s international network of observatories.

    Other indicators of possible technologies include laser beams, structures built around stars to capture the star’s power output, atmospheric chemicals produced by industries, and rings of satellites similar to the ring of geosynchronous communication satellites orbiting above Earth’s equator.

    “Such indicators are becoming detectable as our technology advances, and this has renewed interest in SETI searches at both government agencies and private foundations,” Siemion said.

    Life forms, whether intelligent or not, also can produce detectable indicators. These include the presence of large amounts of oxygen, smaller amounts of methane, and a variety of other chemicals. Victoria Meadows, Principal Investigator for NASA’s Virtual Planetary Laboratory at the University of Washington, described how scientists are developing computer models to simulate extraterrestrial environments and to help support future searches for habitable planets and life beyond the Solar System.

    “Upcoming telescopes in space and on the ground will have the capability to observe the atmospheres of Earth-sized planets orbiting nearby cool stars, so it’s important to understand how best to recognize signs of habitability and life on these planets,” Meadows said, “These computer models will help us determine whether an observed planet is more or less likely to support life.”
    ___________________________________________________________

    “As the VLA conducts its usual scientific observations, this new system will allow for an additional and important use for the data we’re already collecting,” said NRAO Director Tony Beasley. “Determining whether we are alone in the Universe as technologically capable life is among the most compelling questions in science, and NRAO telescopes can play a major role in answering it,” Beasley continued.

    “The SETI Institute will develop and install an interface on the VLA permitting unprecedented access to the rich data stream continuously produced by the telescope as it scans the sky,” said Andrew Siemion, Bernard M. Oliver Chair for SETI at the SETI Institute and Principal Investigator for the Breakthrough Listen Initiative at the University of California, Berkeley. “This interface will allow us to conduct a powerful, wide-area SETI survey that will be vastly more complete than any previous such search,” he added.

    Other indicators of possible technologies include laser beams, structures built around stars to capture the star’s power output, atmospheric chemicals produced by industries, and rings of satellites similar to the ring of geosynchronous communication satellites orbiting above Earth’s equator.

    “Such indicators are becoming detectable as our technology advances, and this has renewed interest in SETI searches at both government agencies and private foundations,” Siemion said.

    Life forms, whether intelligent or not, also can produce detectable indicators. These include the presence of large amounts of oxygen, smaller amounts of methane, and a variety of other chemicals. Victoria Meadows, Principal Investigator for NASA’s Virtual Planetary Laboratory at the University of Washington, described how scientists are developing computer models to simulate extraterrestrial environments and to help support future searches for habitable planets and life beyond the Solar System.

    “Upcoming telescopes in space and on the ground will have the capability to observe the atmospheres of Earth-sized planets orbiting nearby cool stars, so it’s important to understand how best to recognize signs of habitability and life on these planets,” Meadows said, “These computer models will help us determine whether an observed planet is more or less likely to support 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

    NRAO/Karl V Jansky VLA, on the Plains of San Agustin fifty miles west of Socorro, NM, USA

    The NRAO operates a complementary, state-of-the-art suite of radio telescope facilities for use by the scientific community, regardless of institutional or national affiliation: the Very Large Array (VLA)

    NRAO/VLBA


    ESO/NRAO/NAOJ ALMA Array in Chile in the Atacama at Chajnantor plateau, at 5,000 metres

    Access to ALMA observing time by the North American astronomical community will be through the North American ALMA Science Center (NAASC).

    *The Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) comprises ten radio telescopes spanning 5,351 miles. It’s the world’s largest, sharpest, dedicated telescope array. With an eye this sharp, you could be in Los Angeles and clearly read a street sign in New York City!

    Astronomers use the continent-sized VLBA to zoom in on objects that shine brightly in radio waves, long-wavelength light that’s well below infrared on the spectrum. They observe blazars, quasars, black holes, and stars in every stage of the stellar life cycle. They plot pulsars, exoplanets, and masers, and track asteroids and planets.

    Astronomers use the continent-sized VLBA to zoom in on objects that shine brightly in radio waves, long-wavelength light that’s well below infrared on the spectrum. They observe blazars, quasars, black holes, and stars in every stage of the stellar life cycle. They plot pulsars, exoplanets, and masers, and track asteroids and planets.

     
  • richardmitnick 4:37 pm on February 15, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: COSMIC: the Commensal Open Source Multimode Interferometer Cluster, , , SETI Institute, SETI Institute Agree on New Research Programs", The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI)   

    From National Radio Astronomy Observatory: “NRAO, SETI Institute Agree on New Research Programs” 

    From National Radio Astronomy Observatory

    February 15, 2020
    Dave Finley, Public Information Officer
    (575) 835-7302
    dfinley@nrao.edu

    NRAO Banner

    1
    Credit: Bill Saxton, NRAO/AUI/NSF

    The National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) and the SETI Institute have agreed to collaborate on a broad range of future scientific and technical projects in radio astronomy and related research. Initial efforts under the agreement will be focused on developing capabilities for the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) on radio telescopes operated by NRAO.

    The two organizations will collaborate to develop and install a signal processing system on the National Science Foundation’s Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) [below] that will analyze data collected by that telescope to identify transmissions possibly generated by extraterrestrial technologies. This system — dubbed COSMIC: the Commensal Open Source Multimode Interferometer Cluster — will receive data from a newly-developed parallel Ethernet interface to the VLA, using the same data stream used for other research but analyzed in parallel by COSMIC.

    “This plan will allow an additional, important use for the data we’re already collecting,” said NRAO Director Tony Beasley. “In addition to addressing one of the most profound questions in science, this system also may advance our capabilities in other areas of science, such as detecting Fast Radio Bursts, as well as produce improvements in detecting and excising radio interference from our observations,” Beasley added.

    The first step in realizing the new system will be to develop and install a wide-bandwidth Ethernet interface to the VLA’s current signal distribution system. This first phase of the project has been funded by John and Carol Giannandrea. John Giannandrea is a Trustee of the SETI Institute.

    Dr. Jack Hickish, of the SETI Institute and Real-Time Radio Systems Limited, who is leading development of the COSMIC system, said, “When the VLA digital instrumentation was originally conceived, the idea that astronomers could be provided with access to every bit of the data flowing through the system was laughable. An enormous amount of design expertise and engineering went into building custom hardware to reduce terabits-per-second of data to a rate which scientists could analyze effectively. Once the COSMIC interface is complete, the door will open to perform essentially arbitrary types of signal analysis, helping to further cement the VLA’s history as one of the world’s most productive, powerful, and versatile radio telescopes.”

    The SETI Institute is a privately-funded, nonprofit research institute. Headquartered in Mountain View, California, it focuses on investigations into the origin, evolution, and distribution of life in the Universe. It was founded in 1984, and operates the Allen Telescope Array, the only research-class radio astronomy facility purpose-built to search for intelligent life, as well as conduct radio astronomy research.

    The NRAO is a federally-funded research facility of the National Science Foundation (NSF), and is operated by Associated Universities, Inc. NRAO operates the VLA, the Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA), and is the North American executive for the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in Chile, on behalf of the NSF. The NRAO enables cutting-edge research in the study of the Universe at radio wavelengths, helps train future scientists and engineers, and stimulates public interest in science and astronomy.

    The NRAO is developing the concept for a next-generation VLA (ngVLA), which would dramatically advance radio astronomy beyond current capabilities. The SETI Institute desires to engage as a technical and scientific partner in this project. Specifically, NRAO and the SETI Institute will begin discussions on how to design relevant ngVLA systems so that they will allow leading-edge SETI research on that advanced facility.

    “Our observatory and the SETI Institute are both strongly committed to advancing science and technology, and we have many common interests in radio astronomy and related areas. This agreement, and the collaborations it will foster, will not only open new areas of research but also, we believe, help improve our technologies and make our telescopes more effective scientific tools,” Beasley said.

    The National Radio Astronomy Observatory is a facility of the National Science Foundation, operated under cooperative agreement by Associated Universities, Inc.

    See the full article here .


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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    NRAO/Karl V Jansky VLA, on the Plains of San Agustin fifty miles west of Socorro, NM, USA

    The NRAO operates a complementary, state-of-the-art suite of radio telescope facilities for use by the scientific community, regardless of institutional or national affiliation: the Very Large Array (VLA)

    NRAO VLBA

    NRAO/VLBA


    ESO/NRAO/NAOJ ALMA Array in Chile in the Atacama at Chajnantor plateau, at 5,000 metres

    Access to ALMA observing time by the North American astronomical community will be through the North American ALMA Science Center (NAASC).

    *The Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) comprises ten radio telescopes spanning 5,351 miles. It’s the world’s largest, sharpest, dedicated telescope array. With an eye this sharp, you could be in Los Angeles and clearly read a street sign in New York City!

    Astronomers use the continent-sized VLBA to zoom in on objects that shine brightly in radio waves, long-wavelength light that’s well below infrared on the spectrum. They observe blazars, quasars, black holes, and stars in every stage of the stellar life cycle. They plot pulsars, exoplanets, and masers, and track asteroids and planets.

    Astronomers use the continent-sized VLBA to zoom in on objects that shine brightly in radio waves, long-wavelength light that’s well below infrared on the spectrum. They observe blazars, quasars, black holes, and stars in every stage of the stellar life cycle. They plot pulsars, exoplanets, and masers, and track asteroids and planets.

     
  • richardmitnick 3:49 pm on February 15, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "New Technologies Strategies Expanding Search for Extraterrestrial Life", , , , SETI Institute,   

    From National Radio Astronomy Observatory: “New Technologies, Strategies Expanding Search for Extraterrestrial Life” 

    From National Radio Astronomy Observatory

    NRAO Banner

    February 15, 2020
    Dave Finley, Public Information Officer
    (575) 835-7302
    dfinley@nrao.edu

    1
    Credit: Bill Saxton, NRAO/AUI/NSF

    Emerging technologies and new strategies are opening a revitalized era in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI).

    New discovery capabilities, along with the rapidly-expanding number of known planets orbiting stars other than the Sun, are spurring innovative approaches by both government and private organizations, according to a panel of experts speaking at a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Seattle, Washington.

    New approaches will not only expand upon but also go beyond the traditional SETI technique of searching for intelligently-generated radio signals, first pioneered by Frank Drake’s Project Ozma in 1960.

    Frank Drake with his Drake Equation. Credit Frank Drake

    Scientists now are designing state-of-the-art techniques to detect a variety of signatures that can indicate the possibility of extraterrestrial technologies. Such “technosignatures” can range from the chemical composition of a planet’s atmosphere, to laser emissions, to structures orbiting other stars, among others.

    The National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) and the privately-funded SETI Institute announced an agreement to collaborate on new systems to add SETI capabilities to radio telescopes operated by NRAO. The first project will develop a system to piggyback on the National Science Foundation’s Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) that will provide data to a state-of-the-art technosignature search system.

    “As the VLA conducts its usual scientific observations, this new system will allow for an additional and important use for the data we’re already collecting,” said NRAO Director Tony Beasley. “Determining whether we are alone in the Universe as technologically capable life is among the most compelling questions in science, and NRAO telescopes can play a major role in answering it,” Beasley continued.

    “The SETI Institute will develop and install an interface on the VLA permitting unprecedented access to the rich data stream continuously produced by the telescope as it scans the sky,” said Andrew Siemion, Bernard M. Oliver Chair for SETI at the SETI Institute and Principal Investigator for the Breakthrough Listen Initiative at the University of California, Berkeley. “This interface will allow us to conduct a powerful, wide-area SETI survey that will be vastly more complete than any previous such search,” he added.

    Siemion highlighted the singular role the $100-million Breakthrough Listen Initiative has played in reinvigorating the field of SETI in recent years. Siemion also announced the latest scientific results from Listen, a SETI survey in the direction of stars where a distant civilization could observe the Earth’s passage across the sun, and the availability of nearly 2 PetaBytes of data from the Listen Initiative’s international network of observatories.

    Other indicators of possible technologies include laser beams, structures built around stars to capture the star’s power output, atmospheric chemicals produced by industries, and rings of satellites similar to the ring of geosynchronous communication satellites orbiting above Earth’s equator.

    “Such indicators are becoming detectable as our technology advances, and this has renewed interest in SETI searches at both government agencies and private foundations,” Siemion said.

    Life forms, whether intelligent or not, also can produce detectable indicators. These include the presence of large amounts of oxygen, smaller amounts of methane, and a variety of other chemicals. Victoria Meadows, Principal Investigator for NASA’s Virtual Planetary Laboratory at the University of Washington, described how scientists are developing computer models to simulate extraterrestrial environments and to help support future searches for habitable planets and life beyond the Solar System.

    “Upcoming telescopes in space and on the ground will have the capability to observe the atmospheres of Earth-sized planets orbiting nearby cool stars, so it’s important to understand how best to recognize signs of habitability and life on these planets,” Meadows said, “These computer models will help us determine whether an observed planet is more or less likely to support life.”

    NASA/ESA/CSA Webb Telescope annotated

    ESO/E-ELT, 39 meter telescope to be on top of Cerro Armazones in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile. located at the summit of the mountain at an altitude of 3,060 metres (10,040 ft).

    TMT-Thirty Meter Telescope, proposed and now approved for Mauna Kea, Hawaii, USA4,207 m (13,802 ft) above sea level, the only giant 30 meter class telescope for the Northern hemisphere

    GMT

    Giant Magellan Telescope, 21 meters, to be at the Carnegie Institution for Science’s Las Campanas Observatory, to be built some 115 km (71 mi) north-northeast of La Serena, Chile, over 2,500 m (8,200 ft) high

    As new programs implement the expanding technical capabilities for detecting extraterrestrial life and intelligence, it’s important to define what constitutes compelling, credible evidence, according to Jill Tarter, of the SETI Institute.

    Jill Tarter Image courtesy of Jill Tarter

    “How strong does the evidence need to be to justify claiming a discovery? Can we expect to find smoking guns? If the evidence requires many caveats, how do we responsibly inform the public,” Tarter asked.

    Tarter pointed out that projects such as the University of California at San Diego’s PANOSETI visible-light and infrared search, and the SETI Institute’s Laser SETI search are being built with co-observing sites to reduce false positives. Such measures, she said, will boost confidence in reported detections, but also add to the expense of the project.

    The news media also share responsibility for communicating accurately with the public, Tarter emphasized. She cited cases in recent years of “exuberant reporting” of bogus claims of SETI detections. “A real detection of extraterrestrial intelligence would be such an important milestone in our understanding of the Universe that journalists need to avoid uncritical reporting of obviously fake claims,” she said.

    “As continuing discoveries show us that planets are very common components of the Universe, and we are able to study the characteristics of those planets, it’s exciting that at the same time, technological advances are giving us the tools to greatly expand our search for signs of life. We look forward to this new realm of discovery,” said Beasley, who organized the AAAS panel.

    “We also look forward to the coming decade, when we hope to build a next-generation Very Large Array, which will be able to search a volume of the Universe a thousand times larger than that accessible to current telescopes — making it the most powerful radio technosignature search machine humanity has ever constructed,” Beasley added.

    The National Radio Astronomy Observatory is a facility of the National Science Foundation, operated under cooperative agreement by Associated Universities, Inc.

    See the full article here .


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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    NRAO/Karl V Jansky VLA, on the Plains of San Agustin fifty miles west of Socorro, NM, USA

    The NRAO operates a complementary, state-of-the-art suite of radio telescope facilities for use by the scientific community, regardless of institutional or national affiliation: the Very Large Array (VLA)

    NRAO VLBA

    NRAO/VLBA


    ESO/NRAO/NAOJ ALMA Array in Chile in the Atacama at Chajnantor plateau, at 5,000 metres

    Access to ALMA observing time by the North American astronomical community will be through the North American ALMA Science Center (NAASC).

    *The Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) comprises ten radio telescopes spanning 5,351 miles. It’s the world’s largest, sharpest, dedicated telescope array. With an eye this sharp, you could be in Los Angeles and clearly read a street sign in New York City!

    Astronomers use the continent-sized VLBA to zoom in on objects that shine brightly in radio waves, long-wavelength light that’s well below infrared on the spectrum. They observe blazars, quasars, black holes, and stars in every stage of the stellar life cycle. They plot pulsars, exoplanets, and masers, and track asteroids and planets.

    largest, sharpest, dedicated telescope array. With an eye this sharp, you could be in Los Angeles and clearly read a street sign in New York City!

    Astronomers use the continent-sized VLBA to zoom in on objects that shine brightly in radio waves, long-wavelength light that’s well below infrared on the spectrum. They observe blazars, quasars, black holes, and stars in every stage of the stellar life cycle. They plot pulsars, exoplanets, and masers, and track asteroids and planets.

    The National Radio Astronomy Observatory is a facility of the National Science Foundation, operated under cooperative agreement by Associated Universities, Inc.

     
  • richardmitnick 3:15 pm on February 15, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: (COSMIC SETI)-Commensal Open-Source Multimode Interferometer Cluster Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, A technosignature is considered by SETI scientists to be a proxy for the existence of a technologically advanced extraterrestrial civilization., , , SETI Institute, The new ethernet interface will be able to access raw data from each antenna routing it through new more flexible signal processing software to search for technosignatures in real-time.   

    From SETI Institute: “SETI Institute and National Radio Astronomy Observatory Team Up for SETI Science at the Very Large Array” 


    SETI Logo new


    From SETI Institute

    Feb 13, 2020
    Press Release

    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)

    The SETI Institute and the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) are announcing a collaboration to bring a state-of-the-art search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) instrument to the Very Large Array (VLA) for the first time. Thanks to a new, cost-effective Ethernet interface, it will be possible to employ the VLA to search for technosignatures 24 hours a day – 7 days a week, as well as explore other natural astrophysical phenomena in novel ways. The new system is called the Commensal Open-Source Multimode Interferometer Cluster Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (COSMIC SETI).

    Located in New Mexico, the VLA is the most productive radio telescope in the world, consisting of twenty-seven 25-meter telescopes that are used by astronomers to observe black holes, conduct research about the formation of the universe and study young stars to understand how planets form. Despite being prominently featured in the 1997 film Contact, featuring Jodie Foster as an astronomer searching for signs of extraterrestrial intelligence, the VLA has never before hosted a dedicated SETI instrument.

    “The SETI Institute will develop and install an interface on the VLA permitting unprecedented access to the rich data stream continuously produced by the telescope as it scans the sky,“ said Andrew Siemion, Bernard M. Oliver Chair for SETI at the SETI Institute and Principal Investigator for the Breakthrough Listen Initiative at the University of California, Berkeley. “This interface will allow us to conduct a powerful, wide-area SETI survey that will be vastly more complete than any previous such search,”

    “As the VLA conducts standard observations, this new system will allow for an additional and important use for the data we’re already collecting,” added NRAO Director Tony Beasley. “Determining whether we are alone in the universe as technologically capable life is among the most compelling questions in science, and NRAO telescopes can play a major role in answering it,” Beasley continued.

    “Having access to the most sensitive radio telescope in the northern hemisphere for SETI observations is perhaps the most transformative opportunity yet in the history of SETI programs,” said Bill Diamond, President and CEO of the SETI Institute. “We are delighted to have this opportunity to partner with NRAO, especially as we now understand the candidate pool of relevant planets numbers in the billions.”

    The new ethernet interface will be able to access raw data from each antenna, routing it through new, more flexible signal processing software to search for technosignatures in real-time. A technosignature is considered by SETI scientists to be a proxy for the existence of a technologically advanced, extraterrestrial civilization. The software will also be able to detect Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs), another possible type of technosignature. This research will be part of the VLA’s 5-year Sky Survey, which encompasses 75% of the entire sky, everything that is viewable from the VLA location.

    Dr. Jack Hickish (SETI Institute / Real-Time Radio Systems Ltd.), who is leading the development of the COSMIC interface said “When the VLA digital instrumentation was originally conceived, the idea that astronomers could be provided with access to every bit of the data flowing through the system was laughable. Once the COSMIC interface is complete, the door opens to perform new types of signal analysis, helping to further cement the VLA’s history as one of the world’s most productive, powerful, and versatile radio telescopes.”

    John Giannandrea, a trustee of the SETI Institute, funded the development of the COSMIC interface with a generous philanthropic gift, along with his wife, Carol. While NASA and the National Science Foundation (NSF) fund much of the scientific research conducted by the SETI Institute, SETI science receives virtually no government funding.

    Testing of the COSMIC Ethernet interface is already underway. The SETI Institute and NRAO hope to begin work on building the digital search system, for which they are seeking additional funding, and be ready when the VLA begins the 2nd epoch of its Sky Survey in 2021.

    See the full article here .

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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    SETI Institute


    About the SETI Institute
    What is life? How does it begin? Are we alone? These are some of the questions we ask in our quest to learn about and share the wonders of the universe. At the SETI Institute we have a passion for discovery and for passing knowledge along as scientific ambassadors.

    The SETI Institute is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit scientific research institute headquartered in Mountain View, California. We are a key research contractor to NASA and the National Science Foundation (NSF), and we collaborate with industry partners throughout Silicon Valley and beyond.

    Founded in 1984, the SETI Institute employs more than 130 scientists, educators, and administrative staff. Work at the SETI Institute is anchored by three centers: the Carl Sagan Center for the Study of Life in the Universe (research), the Center for Education and the Center for Outreach.

    The SETI Institute welcomes philanthropic support from individuals, private foundations, corporations and other groups to support our education and outreach initiatives, as well as unfunded scientific research and fieldwork.

    A Special Thank You to SETI Institute Partners and Collaborators
    • Campoalto, Chile, NASA Ames Research Center, NASA Headquarters, National Science Foundation, Aerojet Rocketdyne,SRI International

    Frontier Development Lab Partners
    • Breakthrough Prize Foundation, European Space Agency, Google Cloud, IBM, Intel, KBRwyle. Kx Lockheed Martin, NASA Ames Research Center, Nvidia, SpaceResources Luxembourg, XPrize

    In-kind Service Providers
    • Gunderson Dettmer – General legal services, Hello Pilgrim – Website Design and Development Steptoe & Johnson – IP legal services, Danielle Futselaar

    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)

    SETI Institute – 189 Bernardo Ave., Suite 100
    Mountain View, CA 94043
    Phone 650.961.6633 – Fax 650-961-7099
    Privacy PolicyQuestions and Comments

    Also in the hunt, but not a part of the SETI Institute


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

    BOINCLarge

    BOINC is a leader in the field(s) of Distributed Computing, Grid Computing and Citizen Cyberscience.BOINC is more properly the Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing, developed at UC Berkeley.

     
  • richardmitnick 2:38 pm on February 15, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Breakthrough Listen scans Milky Way Galaxy for beacons of civilization", About half of the data comes via the Parkes Radio Telescope in New South Wales Australia, , , , Breakthrough Listen principal investigator Andrew Siemion of the University of California Berkeley announced the release of nearly 2 petabytes of data the second data dump from the project., , Now we can do real science and with making this data available to general public so can anyone who wants to know the answer to this deep question., SETI Institute, Sofia Sheikh, Studies of the Breakthrough Listen group are gradually putting limits on the location and capabilities of advanced civilizations that may exist in our galaxy., The first project will develop a system to piggyback on the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) and provide data to state-of-the-art digital backend equipment built by the SETI Institute., The NRAO and the SETI Institute also announced today an agreement to collaborate on new systems to add SETI capabilities to radio telescopes operated by NRAO such as the VLA., The remainder of the data was recorded by the Green Bank Observatory in West Virginia and the Automated Planet Finder at Lick Observatory UCSC.,   

    From UC Berkeley: “Breakthrough Listen scans Milky Way Galaxy for beacons of civilization” 

    From UC Berkeley

    1
    Artist’s concept of a nearby civilization signaling Earth after observing our planet crossing in front of the sun. Astronomers have now scanned 20 nearby stars in the Earth transit zone in search of such signals. (UC Berkeley image courtesy of Breakthrough Listen).

    The Breakthrough Listen Initiative today (Friday, Feb. 14) released data from the most comprehensive survey yet of radio emissions from the plane of the Milky Way Galaxy and the region around its central black hole, and it is inviting the public to search the data for signals from intelligent civilizations.

    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)

    At a media briefing today in Seattle as part of the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Breakthrough Listen principal investigator Andrew Siemion of the University of California, Berkeley, announced the release of nearly 2 petabytes of data, the second data dump from the four-year old search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI). A petabyte of radio and optical telescope data was released last June, the largest release of SETI data in the history of the field.

    The data, most of it fresh from the telescope prior to detailed study from astronomers, comes from a survey of the radio spectrum between 1 and 12 gigahertz (GHz). About half of the data comes via the Parkes radio telescope in New South Wales, Australia, which, because of its location in the Southern Hemisphere, is perfectly situated and instrumented to scan the entire galactic disk and galactic center. The telescope is part of the Australia Telescope National Facility, owned and managed by the country’s national science agency, CSIRO.

    The remainder of the data was recorded by the Green Bank Observatory in West Virginia, the world’s largest steerable radio dish, and an optical telescope called the Automated Planet Finder, built and operated by UC Berkeley and located at Lick Observatory outside San Jose, California.

    “Since Breakthrough Listen’s initial data release last year, we have doubled what is available to the public,” said Breakthrough Listen’s lead system administrator, Matt Lebofsky. “It is our hope that these data sets will reveal something new and interesting, be it other intelligent life in the universe or an as-yet-undiscovered natural astronomical phenomenon.”

    “For the whole of human history, we had a limited amount of data to search for life beyond Earth. So, all we could do was speculate. Now, as we are getting a lot of data, we can do real science and, with making this data available to general public, so can anyone who wants to know the answer to this deep question,” said Yuri Milner, the founder of Breakthrough Listen.

    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)


    The VLA is teaming up with the SETI Institute to capture data that can be searched for intelligent signals.

    The National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) and the privately-funded SETI Institute in Mountain View, California, also announced today an agreement to collaborate on new systems to add SETI capabilities to radio telescopes operated by NRAO. The first project will develop a system to piggyback on the National Science Foundation’s Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) in New Mexico and provide data to state-of-the-art digital backend equipment built by the SETI Institute.

    “The SETI Institute will develop and install an interface on the VLA, permitting unprecedented access to the rich data stream continuously produced by the telescope as it scans the sky,“ said Siemion, who, in addition to his UC Berkeley position, is the Bernard M. Oliver Chair for SETI at the SETI Institute. “This interface will allow us to conduct a powerful, wide-area SETI survey that will be vastly more complete than any previous such search.”

    “As the VLA conducts its usual scientific observations, this new system will allow for an additional and important use for the data we’re already collecting,” said NRAO Director Tony Beasley. “Determining whether we are alone in the universe as technologically capable life is among the most compelling questions in science, and NRAO telescopes can play a major role in answering it.”

    Earth transit zone survey

    In releasing the new radio and optical data, Siemion highlighted a new analysis of a small subset of the data: radio emissions from 20 nearby stars that are aligned with the plane of Earth’s orbit such that an advanced civilization around those stars could see Earth pass in front of the sun (a “transit” like those focused on by NASA’s Kepler space telescope). Conducted by the Green Bank Telescope, the Earth transit zone survey observed in the radio frequency range between 4 and 8 gigahertz, the so-called C-band. The data were then analyzed by former UC Berkeley undergraduate Sofia Sheikh, now a graduate student at Pennsylvania State University, who looked for bright emissions at a single radio wavelength or a narrow band around a single wavelength. She has submitted the paper to The Astrophysical Journal.

    “This is a unique geometry,” Sheikh said. “It is how we discovered other exoplanets, so it kind of makes sense to extrapolate and say that that might be how other intelligent species find planets, as well. This region has been talked about before, but there has never been a targeted search of that region of the sky.”

    While Sheikh and her team found no technosignatures of civilization, the analysis and other detailed studies the Breakthrough Listen group has conducted are gradually putting limits on the location and capabilities of advanced civilizations that may exist in our galaxy.

    “We didn’t find any aliens, but we are setting very rigorous limits on the presence of a technologically capable species, with data for the first time in the part of the radio spectrum between 4 and 8 gigahertz,” Siemion said. “These results put another rung on the ladder for the next person who comes along and wants to improve on the experiment.”

    Sheikh noted that her mentor, Jason Wright at Penn State, estimated that if the world’s oceans represented every place and wavelength we could search for intelligent signals, we have, to date, explored only a hot tub’s worth of it.

    “My search was sensitive enough to see a transmitter basically the same as the strongest transmitters we have on Earth, because I looked at nearby targets on purpose,” Sheikh said. “So, we know that there isn’t anything as strong as our Arecibo telescope beaming something at us. Even though this is a very small project, we are starting to get at new frequencies and new areas of the sky.”
    Beacons in the galactic center?

    The so-far unanalyzed observations from the galactic disk and galactic center survey were a priority for Breakthrough Listen because of the higher likelihood of observing an artificial signal from that region of dense stars. If artificial transmitters are not common in the galaxy, then searching for a strong transmitter among the billions of stars in the disk of our galaxy is the best strategy, Simeon said.

    3
    Breakthrough Listen, based at UC Berkeley, collects petabytes of data from the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia (right) and the Parkes radio telescope in Australia (left) and makes it available to the science community to analyze in search of signals from intelligent civilizations. (Graphic courtesy of Breakthrough Listen)

    On the other hand, putting a powerful, intergalactic transmitter in the core of our galaxy, perhaps powered by the 4 million-solar-mass black hole there, might not be beyond the capabilities of a very advanced civilization. Galactic centers may be so-called Schelling points: likely places for civilizations to meet up or place beacons, given that they cannot communicate among themselves to agree on a location.

    “The galactic center is the subject of a very specific and concerted campaign with all of our facilities because we are in unanimous agreement that that region is the most interesting part of the Milky Way galaxy,” Siemion said. “If an advanced civilization anywhere in the Milky Way wanted to put a beacon somewhere, getting back to the Schelling point idea, the galactic center would be a good place to do it. It is extraordinarily energetic, so one could imagine that if an advanced civilization wanted to harness a lot of energy, they might somehow use the supermassive black hole that is at the center of the Milky Way galaxy.”

    Visit from an interstellar comet

    Breakthrough Listen also released observations of the interstellar comet 2I/Borisov, which had a close encounter with the sun in December and is now on its way out of the solar system. The group had earlier scanned the interstellar rock ‘Oumuamua, which passed through the center of our solar system in 2017. Neither exhibited technosignatures.

    ‘Oumuamua

    5
    NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope took this photo of the interstellar comet 2I/Borisov in October 2019, two months before its closest approach to the sun. (Photo courtesy of NASA, ESA and D. Jewitt, UCLA))

    “If interstellar travel is possible, which we don’t know, and if other civilizations are out there, which we don’t know, and if they are motivated to build an interstellar probe, then some fraction greater than zero of the objects that are out there are artificial interstellar devices,” said Steve Croft, a research astronomer with the Berkeley SETI Research Center and Breakthrough Listen. “Just as we do with our measurements of transmitters on extrasolar planets, we want to put a limit on what that number is.”

    Regardless of the kind of SETI search, Siemion said, Breakthrough Listen looks for electromagnetic radiation that is consistent with a signal that we know technology produces, or some anticipated signal that technology could produce, and inconsistent with the background noise from natural astrophysical events. This also requires eliminating signals from cellphones, satellites, GPS, internet, Wi-fi and myriad other human sources.

    In Sheikh’s case, she turned the Green Bank telescope on each star for five minutes, pointed away for another five minutes and repeated that twice more. She then threw out any signal that didn’t disappear when the telescope pointed away from the star. Ultimately, she whittled an initial 1 million radio spikes down to a couple hundred, which she was able to eliminate as Earth-based human interference. The last four unexplained signals turned out to be from passing satellites.

    Siemion emphasized that the Breakthrough Listen team intends to analyze all the data released to date and to do it systematically and often.

    “Of all the observations we have done, probably 20% or 30% have been included in a data analysis paper,” Siemion said. “Our goal is not just to analyze it 100%, but 1000% or 2000%. We want to analyze it iteratively.”

    Breakthrough Listen, based at UC Berkeley, is supported by a $100 million, 10-year commitment from the Breakthrough Initiatives, founded in 2015 by Yuri and Julia Milner to explore the universe, seek scientific evidence of life beyond Earth and encourage public debate from a planetary perspective.

    RELATED INFORMATION

    Data Release 2 portal
    SETI Institute and National Radio Astronomy Observatory Team Up for SETI Science at the Very Large Array (SETI Institute press release)
    New Technologies, Strategies Expanding Search for Extraterrestrial Life (NRAO press release)
    Berkeley SETI Research Center
    Breakthrough Initiatives
    Sofia Sheikh’s website

    See the full article here .

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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Founded in the wake of the gold rush by leaders of the newly established 31st state, the University of California’s flagship campus at Berkeley has become one of the preeminent universities in the world. Its early guiding lights, charged with providing education (both “practical” and “classical”) for the state’s people, gradually established a distinguished faculty (with 22 Nobel laureates to date), a stellar research library, and more than 350 academic programs.

    UC Berkeley Seal

     
  • richardmitnick 1:33 pm on January 7, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "NASA’s TESS Mission Uncovers Its 1st World with Two Stars", , , , , , SETI Institute   

    From SETI Institute: “NASA’s TESS Mission Uncovers Its 1st World with Two Stars” 

    SETI Logo new
    From SETI Institute

    Jan 6, 2020
    Rebecca McDonald
    Director of Communications
    SETI Institute
    rmcdonald@seti.org
    650-960-4526

    Written by
    Jeanette Kazmierczak
    NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

    1
    TOI 1338 b is silhouetted by its host stars. TESS only detects transits from the larger star. Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Chris Smith.

    In 2019, when Wolf Cukier finished his junior year at Scarsdale High School in New York, he joined NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, as a summer intern. His job was to examine variations in star brightness captured by NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) and uploaded to the Planet Hunters TESS citizen science project.

    NASA/MIT TESS replaced Kepler in search for exoplanets

    “I was looking through the data for everything the volunteers had flagged as an eclipsing binary, a system where two stars circle around each other and from our view eclipse each other every orbit,” Cukier said. “About three days into my internship, I saw a signal from a system called TOI 1338. At first I thought it was a stellar eclipse, but the timing was wrong. It turned out to be a planet.”

    TOI 1338 b, as it is now called, is TESS’s first circumbinary planet, a world orbiting two stars. The discovery was featured in a panel discussion on Monday, Jan. 6, at the 235th American Astronomical Society meeting in Honolulu. A paper, which Cukier co-authored along with scientists from Goddard, San Diego State University, the University of Chicago and other institutions, has been submitted to a scientific journal.

    The TOI 1338 system lies 1,300 light-years away in the constellation Pictor. The two stars orbit each other every 15 days. One is about 10% more massive than our Sun, while the other is cooler, dimmer and only one-third the Sun’s mass.

    TOI 1338 b is the only known planet in the system. It’s around 6.9 times larger than Earth, or between the sizes of Neptune and Saturn. The planet orbits in almost exactly the same plane as the stars, so it experiences regular stellar eclipses.

    TESS has four cameras, which each take a full-frame image of a patch of the sky every 30 minutes for 27 days. Scientists use the observations to generate graphs of how the brightness of stars change over time. When a planet crosses in front of its star from our perspective, an event called a transit, its passage causes a distinct dip in the star’s brightness.

    Planet transit. NASA/Ames

    But planets orbiting two stars are more difficult to detect than those orbiting one. TOI 1338 b’s transits are irregular, between every 93 and 95 days, and vary in depth and duration thanks to the orbital motion of its stars. TESS only sees the transits crossing the larger star; the transits of the smaller star are too faint to detect.

    “These are the types of signals that algorithms really struggle with,” said lead author Veselin Kostov, a research scientist at the SETI Institute and Goddard. “The human eye is extremely good at finding patterns in data, especially non-periodic patterns like those we see in transits from these systems.”

    This explains why Cukier had to visually examine each potential transit. For example, he initially thought TOI 1338 b’s transit was a result of the smaller star in the system passing in front of the larger one — both cause similar dips in brightness. But the timing was wrong for an eclipse.

    After identifying TOI 1338 b, the research team used a software package called eleanor, named after Eleanor Arroway, the central character in Carl Sagan’s novel “Contact,” to confirm the transits were real and not a result of instrumental artifacts.

    “Throughout all of its images, TESS is monitoring millions of stars,” said co-author Adina Feinstein, a graduate student at the University of Chicago. “That’s why our team created eleanor. It’s an accessible way to download, analyze and visualize transit data. We designed it with planets in mind, but other members of the community use it to study stars, asteroids and even galaxies.”

    TOI 1338 had already been studied from the ground by radial velocity surveys, which measure motion along our line of sight. Kostov’s team used this archival data to analyze the system and confirm the planet. Although the planet transits irregularly, its orbit is stable for at least the next 10 million years. The orbit’s angle to us, however, changes enough that the planet transit will cease after November 2023 and resume eight years later.

    NASA’s Kepler and K2 missions previously discovered 12 circumbinary planets in 10 systems, all similar to TOI 1338 b.

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

    Observations of binary systems are biased toward finding larger planets, Kostov said. Transits of smaller bodies don’t have as big an effect on the stars’ brightness. TESS is expected to observe hundreds of thousands of eclipsing binaries during its initial two-year mission, so many more of these circumbinary planets should be waiting for discovery.


    NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite found its first circumbinary planet, a world orbiting two stars 1,300 light-years away. Watch to learn more about this Saturn-size world called TOI 1338 b.
    Credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center

    TESS is a NASA Astrophysics Explorer mission led and operated by MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and managed by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. Additional partners include Northrop Grumman, based in Falls Church, Virginia; NASA’s Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley; the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts; MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory; and the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore. More than a dozen universities, research institutes and observatories worldwide are participants in the mission.

    See the full article here.

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    SETI Institute


    About the SETI Institute
    What is life? How does it begin? Are we alone? These are some of the questions we ask in our quest to learn about and share the wonders of the universe. At the SETI Institute we have a passion for discovery and for passing knowledge along as scientific ambassadors.

    The SETI Institute is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit scientific research institute headquartered in Mountain View, California. We are a key research contractor to NASA and the National Science Foundation (NSF), and we collaborate with industry partners throughout Silicon Valley and beyond.

    Founded in 1984, the SETI Institute employs more than 130 scientists, educators, and administrative staff. Work at the SETI Institute is anchored by three centers: the Carl Sagan Center for the Study of Life in the Universe (research), the Center for Education and the Center for Outreach.

    The SETI Institute welcomes philanthropic support from individuals, private foundations, corporations and other groups to support our education and outreach initiatives, as well as unfunded scientific research and fieldwork.

    A Special Thank You to SETI Institute Partners and Collaborators
    • Campoalto, Chile, NASA Ames Research Center, NASA Headquarters, National Science Foundation, Aerojet Rocketdyne,SRI International

    Frontier Development Lab Partners
    • Breakthrough Prize Foundation, European Space Agency, Google Cloud, IBM, Intel, KBRwyle. Kx Lockheed Martin, NASA Ames Research Center, Nvidia, SpaceResources Luxembourg, XPrize

    In-kind Service Providers
    • Gunderson Dettmer – General legal services, Hello Pilgrim – Website Design and Development Steptoe & Johnson – IP legal services, Danielle Futselaar

    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)

    SETI Institute – 189 Bernardo Ave., Suite 100
    Mountain View, CA 94043
    Phone 650.961.6633 – Fax 650-961-7099
    Privacy PolicyQuestions and Comments

    Also in the hunt, but not a part of the SETI Institute


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

    BOINCLarge

    BOINC is a leader in the field(s) of Distributed Computing, Grid Computing and Citizen Cyberscience.BOINC is more properly the Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing, developed at UC Berkeley.

     
  • richardmitnick 1:06 pm on December 19, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , SETI Institute   

    From SETI Institute: “The exoplanet Beta Pictoris b. And yet it moves” 

    SETI Logo new
    From SETI Institute

    1

    Eric Nielsen, a former post-doc at the SETI Institute and now a researcher at Stanford University, led a study of the planet beta Pictoris b. The study combined direct observation of the planet recorded with the Gemini Planet Imager (GPI) with additional data from space and ground-based observations.

    NOAO Gemini Planet Imager on Gemini South

    The team estimated the mass of this distant planet to be eight to sixteen times that of Jupiter and found that it likely has an elliptical orbit. A video shows the motion of the planet around its star, something that was inconceivable fifteen years ago.

    Installed on the Gemini-South telescope in 2013, GPI has continually observed beta Pictoris, studying its debris disk, atmosphere, and orbit, and searching for additional planets in the system.

    Gemini/South telescope, Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO) campus near La Serena, Chile, at an altitude of 7200 feet

    Beta Pictoris b unique in the family of directly imaged exoplanets because it is close enough to its star to complete an orbit in just twenty-five years. This orbit period means astronomers are less than a decade from observing a full beta Pic b year since its discovery in 2003. The orientation of the planet’s orbit with respect to Earth is more edge on than other imaged planets—in fact, it just misses passing directly in front of its star.

    Seeing the exoplanet β Pic b from Franck Marchis on Vimeo.

    A new paper [AJ] from the GPIES team determined the planet’s orbit based on a decade and a half of images, as well as radial velocity measurements of both star and planet, and space-based astrometry, which measures the star’s reflex motion. Since the amount the star moves in response to the planet depends on the planet’s mass, this combination of different techniques has been key to learning about the mass of beta Pic b, a rarity among directly imaged planets. This movie shows the combination of all GPI images of beta Pic b from 2013 until 2018, including the gap between 2016 and 2018 when the planet’s orbit took it too close to the star to be detected.

    GPI will shortly move to Gemini-North, from which beta Pic is unfortunately not visible; here, it will instead search for planets not visible from Gemini-South. Other instruments, including VLT/SPHERE, will continue to monitor the orbit of beta Pic b in the coming years.

    NOAO Gemini North on MaunaKea, Hawaii, USA, Altitude 4,213 m (13,822 ft)

    ESO SPHERE extreme adaptive optics system and coronagraphic facility on the extreme adaptive optics system and coronagraphic facility on the VLT MELIPAL UT3, Cerro Paranal, Chile, with an elevation of 2,635 metres (8,645 ft) above sea level

    ESO VLT at Cerro Paranal in the Atacama Desert, •ANTU (UT1; The Sun ),
    •KUEYEN (UT2; The Moon ),
    •MELIPAL (UT3; The Southern Cross ), and
    •YEPUN (UT4; Venus – as evening star).
    elevation 2,635 m (8,645 ft) from above Credit J.L. Dauvergne & G. Hüdepohl atacama photo,

    We will discover many surprises about this system in the near future. For instance, a recent paper led by Anne-Marie Lagrange showed evidence for a second planet in the system, beta Pic c, based on radial velocity measurements of the star. This planet is expected to have a mass (and thus a brightness) similar to beta Pic b, but be about four times closer to the star. Future observations, especially with upgraded instruments in the southern hemisphere such as the ELT, may be sensitive enough to image this second planet as well, which is expected to be in a similar edge-on orbit as beta Pic b.

    ESO/E-ELT,to be on top of Cerro Armazones in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile. located at the summit of the mountain at an altitude of 3,060 metres (10,040 ft).

    What a feast it will be for astronomers when they can study and understand more of these multiple systems by directly imaging their planets!

    See the full article here .

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

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    SETI Institute

    About the SETI Institute

    What is life? How does it begin? Are we alone? These are some of the questions we ask in our quest to learn about and share the wonders of the universe. At the SETI Institute we have a passion for discovery and for passing knowledge along as scientific ambassadors.

    The SETI Institute is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit scientific research institute headquartered in Mountain View, California. We are a key research contractor to NASA and the National Science Foundation (NSF), and we collaborate with industry partners throughout Silicon Valley and beyond.

    Founded in 1984, the SETI Institute employs more than 130 scientists, educators, and administrative staff. Work at the SETI Institute is anchored by three centers: the Carl Sagan Center for the Study of Life in the Universe (research), the Center for Education and the Center for Outreach.

    The SETI Institute welcomes philanthropic support from individuals, private foundations, corporations and other groups to support our education and outreach initiatives, as well as unfunded scientific research and fieldwork.

    A Special Thank You to SETI Institute Partners and Collaborators
    • Campoalto, Chile, NASA Ames Research Center, NASA Headquarters, National Science Foundation, Aerojet Rocketdyne,SRI International

    Frontier Development Lab Partners
    • Breakthrough Prize Foundation, European Space Agency, Google Cloud, IBM, Intel, KBRwyle. Kx Lockheed Martin, NASA Ames Research Center, Nvidia, SpaceResources Luxembourg, XPrize

    In-kind Service Providers
    • Gunderson Dettmer – General legal services, Hello Pilgrim – Website Design and Development Steptoe & Johnson – IP legal services, Danielle Futselaar

    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)

    SETI Institute – 189 Bernardo Ave., Suite 100
    Mountain View, CA 94043
    Phone 650.961.6633 – Fax 650-961-7099
    Privacy PolicyQuestions and Comments

    Also in the hunt, but not a part of the SETI Institute


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

    BOINCLarge

    BOINC is a leader in the field(s) of Distributed Computing, Grid Computing and Citizen Cyberscience.BOINC is more properly the Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing, developed at UC Berkeley.

     
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