A new hunt for alien life is on, or at least it will be if the SETI Institute can get the public to donate to an ambitious campaign that aims to monitor the “whole sky all the time” for signals from an extraterrestrial civilization.
The self-described “audacious” project aims to put specialized cameras around the globe to look for laser flashes from deep space. The gold standard for the experiment is “all-sky, all the time,” according the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute, which is based in Mountain View, California.
The equipment will take the form of toaster-sized prototype detectors that can survey the skies for flashes of laser light from distant worlds.
The Laser SETI has been under development for more than two years and is now ready for the next stage.
“Laser SETI is not constrained – it can look everywhere simultaneously. The technology has been prototyped and subjected to preliminary tests, and consists of a robust assembly of straightforward optical and mechanical components. It can be easily and inexpensively replicated.”
SETI notes that this project is completely different to previous optical SETI efforts that have proved “extremely limited.”
With at least $100,000 needed to create two prototype telescopes, SETI has launched a crowdfunding campaign to raise the cash for the new quest for alien life.
At the time of writing, more than $27,000 has been raised, however, the telescopes are, of course, only the first step and for the project to reach its final goal of two full observatories, it will need a total of more than $1 million in funds.
The team estimates that a handful of these instruments could be used as an observing station and, if stations were installed at up to eight locations around the world, the night sky could be continually monitored for signs of alien life.