NASA has always been keen on finding life outside the Earth; they are taking a step further. Recently, the organization granted aid to start the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) and determine if there are advanced civilizations of alien life out there.
The universe is very big that it is impossible to explore it fully. However, NASA believes humans can explore what humans can, and searching for life outside Earth is a top priority.
After almost three decades, it was the first time the organization granted assistance to such an expedition. For years, astronomers and scientists focused on biosignatures that might be present on other planets. Still, they concluded that, like human beings, alien life might also be advanced, which is why they are now focusing on finding technosignatures, such as air pollution and solar panels.
This article will explore some of NASA’s research and discoveries on finding life outside the earth through technosignatures. Technosignatures is the new frontier for life outside the Earth. It is an important start for the space program to be building a database of these signals so that it can have a plan of action if any one was detected in the future.
NASA has been looking at this from two perspectives:
1) The possibility of finding life outside our planet through technosignatures, and
2) The search for other earth-like planets that might support life.
NASA’s Technosignatures Working Group was formed to search for life on exoplanets. They are looking for technosignatures. These are signs of non-natural, artificial activities that may have been built by intelligent life forms in the universe.
A technosignature is a detectable, diverse, and complex signal that is easily detectable using current or developing technology and is not very likely to have been created by natural phenomena. In genetics, the term “technosignature” is used to describe an identifiable genetic marker that uniquely identifies a population of organisms, such as a population of domesticated maize. Technosignatures are often created by human “invention”, such as characteristics in breeds of animals or tools that have been introduced into specific environments.
NASA has been focusing on finding life outside the earth through technosignatures. These are patterns in radio signals, images of light waves, or other types of energy that might have been created by advanced civilizations. NASA is also focussing on SETI and using it to see if they find any indication of life outside the earth. It is also looking into investigating space and has been working on Mars missions that are proving to be successful and providing evidence of life on Mars. Lastly, NASA also researches climate change so they can provide solutions for it.
Biosignatures such as methane and oxygen might indicate life, but that life can be in the form of plants or microorganisms, which makes sense. From that realization, they concluded that human life and interactions are far from naturally occurring, so if that is the case for the citizens of this planet, then it might be the same for the aliens.
Humans emit such signatures as chlorofluorocarbon (CFC) when using refrigerators or air-conditioning devices on Earth. Other technosignatures are also seen in the dark, especially when light strikes them. These signatures indicate life forms when viewed from another species’ perspective.
Professor Avi Loeb, who practices at Harvard, believes that technosignatures in outer space might indicate advanced alien civilizations. Professor Adam Frank, who practices at the University of Rochester, said that human beings aim to identify where these technosignatures might start and originate.
The project, being funded by NASA, formally called “Characterizing atmospheric technosignatures”, aims to focus on two indicators of technosignatures: air pollution and solar panels. This way, astronomers can map out the possible origins of these signatures while studying, making it easier to identify where to focus first.
The study will focus on artificial technosignatures emitted in the atmosphere, just like how humans emitted artificial ones like CFC before scientists discovered that it destroys the ozone layer.