Video: Help wanted in the search for extraterrestrial intelligenceS. Himmelstein | March 10, 2023
In addition to sending mails, performing everyday research tasks and keeping current with engineering news on GlobalSpec, your computer or smartphone can help astronomers detect intelligent life in the universe with just a few clicks.
The University of California Los Angeles Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (UCLA SETI) program has launched a new project to crowdsource the search for extraterrestrial civilizations. The Are We Alone in the Universe? initiative offers members of the public an opportunity to help scientists find signs of extraterrestrial intelligence by classifying radio signals that may have been emitted up to tens of thousands of light-years away and collected by a radio telescope. No special training or education is needed to participate.
The UCLA SETI program used a radio telescope to observe thousands of stars in the sky, yielding around 5 million signal detections per hour. To date, the researchers have observed 42,000 stars and detected over 64 million radio signals. Automated data processing software discards about 99.5% of the signals as having been produced either deliberately or as side effects of human technologies.
The remaining 10,000 detections per hour constitute potential signs of alien technology, and the new project is designed to identify the most promising signals among them.
Participants are invited to watch a brief tutorial before viewing images of radio signals and answering basic questions about the structure of each one. Armchair astronomers are then asked to select the image, from a set of illustrations provided by the researchers, that most closely resembles the signal they are reviewing. The goal is to classify signals by matching them to common classes of radio frequency interference.
The project was designed by UCLA SETI using the Zooniverse platform, with funding from The Planetary Society and NASA’s Citizen Science Seed Funding Program.