Friday, 24 May, 2019

Could a giant laser let aliens know we're here?

Scientists Want to Use Lasers to Guide Aliens to Earth. What Could Go Wrong Credit MIT-News
Sandy Nunez | 09 November, 2018, 23:02

Other viewers might be found in TRAPPIST-1, a planetary system 39 light-years away that includes three exoplanets that scientists think could be habitable, according to a statement from MIT about Clark's study.

Just a few days after Harvard University researchers suggested that aliens may have sent a probe into our solar system, new research out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology suggests that we may soon be able to signal our presence to extraterrestrials by using a high-powered laser beam.

A message sent in this manner would have a data rate of a few hundred bits per second and could arrive at the distant planet in a few years.

"This would be a challenging project but not an impossible one", Clark says. "I don't know if intelligent creatures around the sun would be their first guess, but it would certainly attract further attention", said Clark in a press release.

"The kinds of lasers and telescopes that are being built today can produce a detectable signal, so that an astronomer could take one look at our star and immediately see something unusual about its spectrum", Clark said.

- A telescope and infrared laser design would be integrated.

- The infrared signal produced would be more than 10 times the infrared emissions from the sun. Clark's study also calls for the laser to be focused through a giant 30 to 45-meter telescope. Either setup, he estimated, could produce a generally detectable signal from up to 20,000 light-years away.

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At 35 to 45 meters large, the telescope needed for the project would dwarf anything now seen on the Earth. According to Clark, the proposed laser's power is equivalent to that of the U.S. Air Force's Airborne Laser, a now-retired mechanism created to shoot ballistic missiles out of the sky - a far cry from your everyday laser.

Clark envisions that, like these massive observatories, a laser beacon should be built atop a mountain, to minimize the amount of atmosphere the laser would have to penetrate before beaming out into space.

He acknowledges that a megawatt laser would come with some safety issues. It could damage a person's vision if they look directly at it, and may also mess with the cameras of passing spacecraft. "In general, this was a feasibility study".

Because much of the resistance from the scientific community about ideas like these involve skepticism regarding feasibility, Clark and his team set out the explore ways in which current technology can be combined to facilitate communication.

"Should we be attracting extraterrestrial attention?" This is not a far-fetched idea as well but the focus of a study conducted by researchers from MIT have imagined thata powerful laser installed on our planet could serve as a beacon to guide the aliens in the space and inform them of our position.

The study suggests the light from a laser could spark interest from extraterrestrials- if they exist.