NASA has recently issued its first grant in three decades to the University of Rochester and the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics that will go towards the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI).
This is a significant step forward in the search for intelligent life because it’s the first time the space organisation has awarded a grant for studying non-radio technosignatures, meaning researchers will finally get the chance to study potential technological signals which could indicate the signature of advanced alien technologies or life.
According to a press release by both the University of Rochester and the Center for Astrophysics, researchers will focus their efforts on looking into the different types of evidence that could point to the possibility of technologies beyond Earth that could only come from advanced alien civilizations.
A @NASA grant lets Rochester astrophysicist @AdamFrank4 search for evidence of intelligent life—past or present—on other planets. #URochesterResearch | https://t.co/Z7Mdrqo9O9 pic.twitter.com/SOTiruKE9L
— Univ. of Rochester (@UofR) June 22, 2020
Researchers will focus on finding two types of technosignatures that indicate the possibility of intelligent life. The first of which includes the search for artificial chemicals present in a distant planet’s atmosphere. If found, this would indicate the presence of industrial activity similar to what takes place on Earth. Next, researchers will look at the different wavelength patterns of light and if they reflected off of devices like solar panels, this would be another clear indication of intelligent life.
In terms of where exactly they will be looking for these technosignatures, there are over 4,000 explants that have been discovered in the decade, so researchers have a wide variety of places to search.