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Rethinking the search for alien life: Let’s look for their space junk

| | June 20, 2018
space junk
This article or excerpt is included in the GLP’s daily curated selection of ideologically diverse news, opinion and analysis of biotechnology innovation.

SETI enthusiasts have devised all sorts of complicated ways for us to find signs of alien life, but a new paper suggests we may be overthinking it. Instead of looking for megastructures and spaceships, we should consider something a bit more obvious: alien satellites and space junk in orbit around distant exoplanets.

Sufficiently dense fleets of satellites in geosynchronous orbit around exoplanets should be detectable from Earth using current technologies, according to new research published in The Astrophysical Journal. Hector Socas-Navarro, an astronomer at the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias and the sole author of the new study, says we could do it using the transit method of detection, which is the same technique used to sniff out exoplanets. He argues that a ring of satellites and accumulating space junk should produce a characteristic light curve signature when an exoplanet passes in front of its host star from our perspective on Earth. Intriguingly, he says this strategy could help us find alien civilizations at a similar level of technological development to our own.

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Interestingly, and perhaps disturbingly, this means our civilization will eventually be detectable whether we like it or not. With each satellite we add to GTO, we are getting closer to being discovered by an ETI. That may or may not be a good thing, and it’s something we should probably think about.

Read full, original post: We Should Search for Aliens by Looking for Their Space Junk

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