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Scientists find a new way to search for intelligent alien civilizations

By T.K. Randall
June 27, 2024 · Comment icon 15 comments

Is there anyone out there ? Image Credit: NASA / JPL-Caltech
If an alien civilization has terraformed the atmosphere of a distant planet, we may be able to find it.
We've often talked about terraforming Mars, which would involve altering its atmosphere to make it more accommodating to life, but what if there are other worlds out there that have already been altered ?

Furthermore, if we actively searched for them, could they point us in the direction of an intelligent alien civilization ?

This is the idea behind a recent UC Riverside study which focused on looking for the telltale greenhouse gases in the atmospheres of extrasolar worlds that could indicate the presence of terraforming activity.

Ironically, such gases are those that we are trying to reduce here on Earth.

"For us, these gases are bad because we don't want to increase warming," said lead study author Edward Schwieterman.
"But they'd be good for a civilization that perhaps wanted to forestall an impending ice age or terraform an otherwise-uninhabitable planet in their system, as humans have proposed for Mars."

One example is sulfur hexafluoride - a gas with 23,500 times the warming power of carbon dioxide.

Existing telescopes capable of analyzing exoplanet atmospheres can already pick up these types of gases, meaning that it should be possible to search for them using today's technology.

"You wouldn't need extra effort to look for these technosignatures, if your telescope is already characterizing the planet for other reasons," said Schwieterman.

"And it would be jaw-droppingly amazing to find them."

Source: | Comments (15)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #6 Posted by Piney 10 days ago
Like if fluoromethane is detected they are still in the 80s and using tons of hairspray? 
Comment icon #7 Posted by Ell 10 days ago
No, like: So my first guess would be option 1 and my second guess would be option 3; combined with ethane and methane occurrence in the outer layers of either type of star. Assuming that aliens would be involved is reserved for the crazies in the deepest part of the Bedlam psychiatric institution.
Comment icon #8 Posted by MrAnderson 7 days ago
I don't see a problem with what these scientists are trying to do. It's a legitimate hypothesis why not examine it. Obtaining funds for research is the way research goes ahead and it's how you can find more postgraduate students.
Comment icon #9 Posted by Piney 7 days ago
I know. I was being facetious. You already know my opinion on technological life and the fact that humanoid aliens are biologically impossible because we are not a convergent but a product of pure environmental stresses.
Comment icon #10 Posted by MrAnderson 7 days ago
That's what I think, the probability of aliens looking like us is very small. It's not impossible on the other hand.
Comment icon #11 Posted by Grim Reaper 6 7 days ago
It would depend upon the environment they evolved in, ie, the atmosphere, the climate, and gravity along with a number of smaller factors. JIMHO
Comment icon #12 Posted by MrAnderson 7 days ago
I agree but it's not impossible there are humanoid species in the universe. Less likely but not impossible.
Comment icon #13 Posted by Grim Reaper 6 7 days ago
I believe that the universe is teaming with life, just because none have visited earth means nothing. Our planet is a fly spec in the grand scheme of things in my opinion, while many people think we are the center of the universe that is a delusional concept. However, I believe there are certainly extraterrestrial humanoids across the universe, I mean the most essential element is carbon and the universe is full of it.. In  addition I also believe that silicon based life is also possible because it is very similar to carbon. In any event, I believe that life is out there and sooner or later c... [More]
Comment icon #14 Posted by MrAnderson 7 days ago
Do you know the Drake Equation? You can use the Drake Equation to give an estimate on the number of intelligent civilizations in our galaxy. There are many parameters in the equation but I can't remember them. ?
Comment icon #15 Posted by Grim Reaper 6 7 days ago
Yes I know it very well, but I disagree that it is a viable equation to predict the number of extraterrestrial life forms in the universe. The reason it isn’t accurate is because the variables can not be accurately predicted at this time due to our lack of ability to estimate the number of galaxies and planets within out Universe. The Fermi paradox is the discrepancy between the lack of conclusive evidence of advanced extraterrestrial life and the apparently high uncertainty lof its existence. At the end of the day neither equation is viable, but who knows what the future will bring. Fe... [More]

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