The quest for finding life other than that on Earth has received a new boost. NASA has collaborated with a project called Breakthrough Listen. The motive is to search for more routes and channels to find aliens. On the 7th of May, 2018, Breakthrough Listen provided updates to the CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization) Parkes Radio Telescope in New South Wales, Australia. CSIRO will support the project to scan stars all over the Milky Way, for about two months.
The project, which is worth 100 million USD, was founded by the late eminent physicist Stephen Hawking and some fellow scientists. It was founded in 2016, by the premise that instead of looking for signs of extraterrestrial life, we should be listening to them.
In an earlier effort, Breakthrough scanned only a single portion of the sky at any instant, focusing on those stars which are in proximity to the Sun. However, after implementing the latest updates, researchers can use the telescope to view and scan the whole of the sky at a speed of 130 gigabits per second. Such high speed is challenging to get on your device even on a good day.
According to Danny Price of Breakthrough Listen, the new advancements will immensely help in minutely scanning our galaxy. By amassing the information present in these vast datasets and looking for traces of technological civilizations, the researchers hope to uncover evidence that among the many planets present in the cosmos, the Earth is not the only planet wherein intelligent life is present.
Presently there is a bill pending before the House of Representatives linked to NASA’s funding, which proposes 10 million USD a year devoted to searching for signs of extraterrestrial life. According to the bill, NASA will partner with both philanthropic organizations as well as those in the private sector to explore for radio transmissions bearing signatures. The aim is to meet the objective of unearthing more information about the birth and evolution of life.
The bill is yet to be cleared, and if it does, it will be the first time since 1992 that NASA receives funding for a project related to the search for life outside of our planet. This will lend some credibility to the idea and will also improve chances of making such a project an integral part of NASA’s budget.