Another door opens for SETI

LOFAR project

LOFAR project

Let’s start explaining the title, what is SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence)? It’s a very serious initiative to respond a fundamental question for us humans: Are We Alone?

The project uses telescopes to listen for narrow-bandwidth radio signals from space. Such events do not occur naturally, so a detection would provide strong evidence of extraterrestrial signals.

50 years have pass since the first SETI observations were conducted by Frank Drake and still no signal from any green or blue strange creature but let’s be optimistic about it.

The new door that begins to open is in the very low energy wavelengths domain, a part of the electromagnetic spectrum that is relatively unexplored. This is done by the Low Frequency Array (LOFAR) a project that aims to build radio observatories in many European counties, there will be 44 independent stations spread across the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, France and the United Kingdom.

Previously atempts of detecting signals from space focused on the nearby stars, LOFAR project will extend this range, it will be capable to detect signals coming from around 220 light years, well including the nearest known extra-solar planet at 10.5 light years away around a sun-like star called Epsilon Eridani.

The next planet hunting mission, as Kepler, which is predicted to find up to 640 planets by monitoring around one hundred thousands nearby stars, and 35 Earth-like planets in the habitable zone, will bring more possible candidates to study.

In the near future (next ten years) more project will follow, including the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) that will provide the sensitivity to explore up to one hundred million stars looking for powerful radio signals similar to those presently used by humans.

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