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Maybe we should check the sun.

Posted by: vecima - Mon Apr 26, 2010 5:35 pm
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Maybe we should check the sun. 
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Post Maybe we should check the sun.   Posted on: Mon Apr 26, 2010 5:35 pm
(This was an email I sent to some friends, decided it could use some feedback from this crowd)

If human kind developed the technology and capability to send a communication signal out into space,
in the hopes that it would be found by other sentient life -- and perhaps we already have this technology and
capability -- where would we shoot the signals? at the stars, right? As far as we can tell, Intelligent life is most
likely to develop on a planet orbiting a star. We've found hundreds of planets, but there are millions of stars that
we know little about, including whether or not planets reside in orbit around them. It would make the most sense
for us to transmit our signal to the stars (not "to the stars" like people say when they really mean "the sky is the limit",
but literally shooting the signal at stars). We probably wouldn't get a response from every sentient race out there since
some races could be in their dark ages or their renaissance, but if there was a race advanced enough to listen for
the signal, it wouldn't be too far fetched to assume they could interpret it and send it back.

As I said before, we've discovered and documented hundreds of exoplanets (planets outside our solar system), and I don't
think anyone argues that we'll find countless more. The rate of discovery is accelerating. However, the number of
stars to search is, from an intellectual standpoint, limitless. Perhaps a better approach to contact is to pro-actively
send messages to the stars we know are there. If there is a space-faring race, they may have equipment set to find our
message, even if it is not their home system. If there is a race on par with our technology, maybe in a matter of years we could
hope for a "hello" back.

The Sun has always served as our beacon of understanding, shining the light of knowledge on our otherwise dark and unknown existence.
As such I reveal the real purpose of this writing - to propose sending a satellite into orbit of the sun (or requisitioning an existing mission),
to be specifically tasked with "listening". I wouldn't presume to be the first human to think of the idea of sending signals to the stars,
and by the same token, maybe humanity isn't the first race to think of doing so either. If sentient life has developed outside our system,
and reached a level of technology on par with or in advance of our own, then it is not such a stretch to think that they may have exercised
this same idea, and that they may long to know they are not alone in the universe.

The details of the mission would be many, but that has never stopped our kind from finding out the things we want to know before.
Could our own sun already be abuzz with the introductory signals of one or more distant civilizations? I think we should find out.

-v


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Post Re: Maybe we should check the sun.   Posted on: Tue Apr 27, 2010 11:11 am
The Earth is already in solar orbit, and we have huge antennas set up here. What would be the advantage of putting them in space?

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Post Re: Maybe we should check the sun.   Posted on: Wed Apr 28, 2010 1:38 pm
I guess there isn't any distinct advantage, so long as we would be able to detect any sort of signal approaching the sun. I would think one or more orbiters at somewhat closer proximity, with instruments pointing away from the suns surface would be better suited, but I fully concede that I don't know much about how the various transmission and detection systems work.


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Post Re: Maybe we should check the sun.   Posted on: Thu Apr 29, 2010 8:50 am
I would think that anything signal aimed at our sun from any exoplanet would be easily picked up by any planet in our solar system - the signal would have diverged so much that even the tightest beam at the send point would have diverged to cover the whole solar system once it reaches us.

If I understand what you are saying correctly..


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Post Re: Maybe we should check the sun.   Posted on: Sat May 15, 2010 4:48 pm
We have already been transmitting our message since Marconi's first radios sent morse code messages in the late 19th century. The radio waves we bounce around to talk to each other carry out into space and out of the solar system. Its conceivable that anyone out there listening can hear Earth's "EM bubble", the sphere of space that our radio waves have travelled, which is now about 200 light years in diameter and growing at the speed of light.

We don't have to spend a special message, our radio chatter to each other is like a neon sign. The only question is if this hypothetical "they" have receivers sensitive enough to pick up the signal. That is one of the reasons radio astronomers and the SETI folks want radio telescopes in orbit or preferably on the far side of the moon, where it will be away from all the noise of human generated radio waves, and they get a clearer, truer picture.


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