Know What to Look For: NASA Reportedly Moves to Fund the Search for Technosignatures on Alien Worlds

The possible signatures scientists are expected to look for include various technological contraptions like solar panels and satellite swarms, as well as chemicals that are "unlikely to be produced naturally".

US space agency NASA is going to fund a new effort to look for signs of alien civilizations' presence in outer space, which will search for possible evidence of extraterrestrials altering their respective environments, the Daily Star reports.

According to the newspaper, this new initiative is aimed at uncovering the so called technosignatures, i.e. "scientific evidence of past and present technology", such as atmospheric pollution, solar panels, megastructures or satellite swarms.

"The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) has always faced the challenge of figuring out where to look. Which stars do you point your telescope at and look for signals?" said the primary recipient of the grant, a professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Rochester named Adam Frank. "Now we know where to look. We have thousands of exoplanets including planets in the habitable zone where life can form. The game has changed."

Dr. Avi Loeb, the Frank B. Baird, Jr., Professor of Science at Harvard University, pointed at a particular planet, Proxima b, which orbits “the nearest star to Earth” and which is “thought to be tidally locked with permanent day and night sides".

"If a civilisation wants to illuminate or warm up the night side, they would place photovoltaic cells on the day side and transfer the electric power gained to the night side", Loeb mused.

Scientists are also expected to look for traces of chemicals that are "unlikely to be produced naturally", as they too might point at some technological activity of extraterrestrial origin, the newspaper adds

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