|Description:|| On 12 & 13 June, ASTRON welcomes about 25 researchers from around the world to a workshop held in Dwingeloo focusing on the potential role of LOFAR in the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI). |
There are about 100 thousand million stars in the galaxy and most of these are expected to harbour planetary systems; some of these planets might actually be suitable for life. Many scientists believe that life is probably wide-spread across the galaxy, although technically advanced civilisations might be relatively rare or at least widely separated from each other.
Despite the huge distances between stars, the next generation of radio telescopes such as LOFAR and SKA, begin to offer the possibility of detecting radio signals beamed towards the Earth by other intelligent beings.
LOFAR can extend SETI observations to an entirely unexplored part of the radio spectrum, an area that is heavily used for civil and military communication applications here on Earth. In addition, LOFAR can survey large areas of the sky simultaneously – an important advantage if SETI signals are rare or transient in nature. The APERTIF system being developed for the WSRT offers similar advantages - including a single dish mode that could cover a large fraction of the sky.
The workshop at ASTRON aims to determine optimal SETI search strategies for LOFAR, while identifying any technical enhancements that would improve the telescopes performance for this kind of survey.
Are we truly alone in the Universe or are there other civilizations out there waiting to be discovered? Either way, the implications are tremendous.