The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence is bigger than ever, thanks to a big cash infusion from Russian billionaire Yuri Milner. That $100 million, decade-long Breakthrough Listen initiative could put us on the cusp of finding out if we’re alone in the universe.
In some ways, though, it’s a fairly traditional search. They’re looking in specific areas of the radio spectrum for hints of stray alien signals, kind of like what’s seen in [the movie] Contact. But there are other ways to hunt for aliens, some of which have yet to be explored.
…[A]t the end of the Breakthrough Listen initiative in 2025, the Square Kilometer Array will open up shop in South Africa. This will be the widest radio telescope array when it opens and one of the most precise when it begins operation in 2020, combining 250 dishes while leaning on other facilities for a little extra oomph. It will also have the computing power to match. It will make spying on other planets easier than ever.
However we find aliens — beacon, radio wave, probe, or megastructure — there’s a bright future for the hunt. We just need to equip ourselves with the next generation tools to do so. And as SKA and upcoming massive telescopes demonstrate, many of those are on the way.
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