Zeroing in on Alien Life
By: Andi Grill
It used to be that searching for signs of alien life meant blindly searching any corner of space in hopes of stumbling across something — anything — meaningful. Not surprisingly, us humans have come up empty so far.
But thanks to data from NASA's Kepler telescope, we finally have a way to apply some method to the madness. The mission of the Kepler program is to search a section of the Milky Way galaxy for other Earth-like planets. The main objective from NASA's perspective is to find possible new homes for humans. But the SETI Institute is using the telescope's data to see if any newly-discovered planets already have intelligent life residing there.
How is SETI doing this? According to a recent article from Space.com:
The researchers are searching for radio signals that aren't likely to be caused by natural phenomena, and thus could represent an extraterrestrial message.Such signals are likely to be narrow in frequency, as known astrophysical phenomena such as black holes and exploding stars tend to release radio waves across a wider range of frequencies.
This still means the folks at SETI are combing through an insane amount of data. It's a galactic "needle in a haystack." But it's a definite step in the right direction and has helped to narrow the search field.
Check out this video from NASA about how recent data is causing the science community to change how they think about alien worlds.