Tag: NASA

by Zachary Riley                     May 16, 2018                     (valuewalk.com)

• The search for alien life is heating up. With a huge amount of money poured into private scientific investigation into the existence of aliens and even a significant chunk of NASA’s budget now dedicated to the search for extraterrestrials, it’s clear that we desperately want evidence that we’re not alone in the universe.

• Many alien enthusiasts and scientists alike insist that we should be considering these extraterrestrials as a species similar to our own with the same sort of curiosity and search for knowledge that we ourselves are known for. There’s a growing movement to approach the research more from a curious and diplomatic standpoint rather than preparing ourselves for an inevitable disaster once we come into contact. By adjusting the way we approach our search for aliens, we may very well be opening ourselves to a much more hospitable interaction with intelligent life if we’re to happen across it.

• It will be an uphill battle when it comes to approaching aliens from a curiosity standpoint rather than one that is defensive, but it’s an interesting theory to keep in mind as we continue to reach out further and further in our search for intelligent life.

 

Investigations into Aliens are often performed from a defense perspective , but what if the extraterrestrial life in our own or neighboring universes are our relatives?

There’s no doubt that the search for alien life is heating up. With a huge amount of money poured into private scientific investigation into the existence of aliens and even a significant chunk of NASA’s budget now dedicated to the search for extraterrestrials, it’s clear that we desperately want evidence that we’re not alone in the universe.

However, the majority of investigations into aliens are made with the assumption that we’d have to prepare ourselves for some sort of alien invasion. It’s usually assumed that these aliens are far more advanced than us and would be more interested in conquest than they would be communication, but there’s certainly also the possibility that these aliens would be open to collaboration and even friendship rather than war.

Recent research into dark energy suggests that the possibility of aliens existing in other universes is very likely, as it’s now considered possible for life to exist under much more trying conditions. But that doesn’t really aid us on our path to discover whether aliens actually exist or shape how exactly we’ll approach the situation if we are to actually come in contact with extraterrestrials.

Many alien enthusiasts and scientists alike are frustrated with the way that the investigations into aliens are being carried out, insisting that we should be considering these extraterrestrials as a species similar to our own with the same sort of curiosity and search for knowledge that we ourselves are known for.

It’s difficult to determine at all what aliens would be like if we happened across them, but there’s a growing movement to start approaching the research more from a curious and diplomatic standpoint rather than preparing ourselves for an inevitable disaster once we come into contact.

Media ranging from YouTube channels to published research alike captures a lot of the attention of the general public by predicting some sort of doomsday were we to come in contact with aliens, but the truth is that we have no idea at all what that sort of contact would be like.

By adjusting the way we approach our search for aliens, we may very well be opening ourselves to a much more hospitable interaction with intelligent life if we’re to happen across it.

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by Lauren Tousignant                  May 10, 2018                (nypost.com)

• On May 7th, NASA’s $100M ‘Breakthrough Listen’ project announced that an enhancement to its CSIRO Parkes Radio Telescope in New South Wales, Australia will allow it to scan millions of stars across the Milky Way over the next 60 days. The telescope will allow scientists to quickly scan the entire sky rather than one single point of the sky at a time.

• “With these new capabilities, we are scanning our galaxy in unprecedented detail,” said Danny Price, at Breakthrough Listen. “By trawling through these huge datasets for signatures of technological civilizations, we hope to uncover evidence that our planet, among the hundreds of billions in our galaxy, is not the only where intelligent life has arisen.”

• Also, a new bill in the US House of Representatives proposes $10 million a year to NASA to search for signs of extraterrestrial life, searching for technosignatures such as radio transmissions in order to “meet the NASA objective to search for life’s origin, evolution, distribution and future in the universe,” according to the bill. If fully passed, it would mark the first time since 1992 that NASA has received federal funding for the search for extraterrestrial life, and reinstate SETI into the NASA budget.

 

The search for extraterrestrial life is getting extra.

NASA and a project called Breakthrough Listen are both making moves to help boost the chances of finding aliens.

On May 7, Breakthrough Listen announced updates to the CSIRO Parkes Radio Telescope in New South Wales, Australia, that will allow it to scan millions of stars across the Milky Way over the next 60 days.
The $100 million Breakthrough Listen project was founded by a group of scientists, including late physicist Stephen Hawking, in 2016 based on the notion that we should be listening for signs of extraterrestrials — not just looking.

Breakthrough’s previous effort with Parkes only scanned one single point of the sky at a time, with a focus on stars near the sun. But the telescope’s latest updates allow scientists to scan the entire sky at 130 gigabits per second — which is thousands of times the bandwidth of your laptop’s internet connection on its best day.

“With these new capabilities, we are scanning our galaxy in unprecedented detail,” Danny Price, a research fellow at Breakthrough Listen, said in a statement. “By trawling through these huge datasets for signatures of technological civilizations, we hope to uncover evidence that our planet, among the hundreds of billions in our galaxy, is not the only where intelligent life has arisen.”

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by Mike Wall        April 18, 2018          (space.com)

• On April 18th, NASA launched the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or “TESS” from Cape Canaveral, Florida. (It was delayed two days to tweak the Falcon 9’s rocket’s guidance, navigation and control systems.) TESS’ two-year, $200M mission is to hunt for alien worlds in our local star system. The satellite will focus on the nearest and brightest stars, using its four cameras to look for worlds that may be close enough to be studied in depth by other instruments.

• TESS principal investigator George Ricker says, “TESS is going to dramatically increase the number of planets that we have to study… “It’s going to more than double the number that have been seen and detected by Kepler.” (The Kepler satellite previously mapped 2,650 nearby Exoplanets.) These satellites locate Exoplanets using the “transit method,” by noting tiny brightness dips these worlds cause when they cross their host star.

• TESS will zoom around our planet, on a highly elliptical 13.7-day orbit that no spacecraft has ever occupied before. This orbit will take TESS as close to Earth as 67,000 miles and as far away as 232,000 miles. TESS will arrive in its final orbit in mid-June, if all goes according to plan. The science campaign will start shortly thereafter.

The agency’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) launched today (April 18) from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, rising off the pad atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at 6:51 p.m. EDT (2251 GMT) and deploying into Earth orbit 49 minutes later.

TESS will hunt for alien worlds around stars in the sun’s neighborhood — planets that other missions can then study in detail. And the spacecraft will be incredibly prolific, if all goes according to plan.

“TESS is going to dramatically increase the number of planets that we have to study,” TESS principal investigator George Ricker, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said during a pre-launch briefing Sunday (April 15).

“It’s going to more than double the number that have been seen and detected by Kepler,” Ricker added, referring to NASA’s Kepler space telescope, which has spotted 2,650 confirmed exoplanets to date —about 70 percent of all the worlds known beyond our solar system.

And the Falcon 9’s first stage came back to Earth less than 9 minutes after liftoff today, touching down softly on a robotic SpaceX “drone ship” stationed in the Atlantic Ocean. SpaceX has now pulled off two dozen such landings during Falcon 9 launches — part of the company’s push to develop fully and rapidly reusable rockets and spacecraft, a breakthrough that SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk has said will revolutionize spaceflight.

SpaceX has re-flown 11 of these first stages to date, but the tally didn’t increase today: This Falcon 9 was brand-new.

Today’s launch was originally scheduled for Monday evening (April 16), but it was delayed by two days to give SpaceX time to investigate a potential issue with the rocket’s guidance, navigation and control systems.

Looking for nearby worlds

Like Kepler, TESS will find alien planets using the “transit method,” noting the tiny brightness dips these worlds cause when they cross their host stars’ faces. But there are some big differences between the missions.

During its prime mission from 2009 through 2013, Kepler stared continuously at a single patch of sky, monitoring about 150,000 stars simultaneously. (Kepler is now embarked on a different mission, called K2, during which it studies a variety of cosmic objects and phenomena, exoplanets among them. But the iconic telescope’s days are numbered; it’s almost out of fuel.) Most of these stars are far from the sun — from several hundred light-years to 1,000 light-years or more.

But TESS will conduct a broad sky survey during its two-year prime mission, covering about 85 percent of the sky. The satellite will focus on the nearest and brightest stars, using its four cameras to look for worlds that may be close enough to be studied in depth by other instruments.

Watch this 4:10 minute NY Times video on the TESS mission

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