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No sign of alien life found by the most comprehensive radio search in human history

Searching for extraterrestrial intelligence can turn out to be quite frustrating as the area to be searched is too vast. From the 1960s, researchers have gone through several billions of radio channels to find anything abnormal as it could suggest not only a different life form but also advanced intelligence. However nothing different has been found yet.

A relatively new astronomical program, Breakthrough Listen searches for signs of alien life in the local Universe which is 160 light years from our planet Earth. After finding no sign of alien life, the researchers from the University of California Berkeley released the data on the public domain before going through a peer review, and the complete analysis consists of 1 petabyte of information about 1327 local stars which is nearly 80 percent of their local star sample. The study has been submitted to The Astrophysical Journal.

Radio and optical telescope observations were used from Green Bank Radio Telescope (GBT) situated in West Virginia, CSIRO’s Parkes Radio Telescope located in Australia. This data set is the representation of the most comprehensive, sensitive search for extraterrestrial life (SETI) in the entire human history.

After removing millions of events which may have been caused due to human interference or forces of nature such as cosmic radiation -only few events were left. But on deeper analysis, the team did not find any event indicating possibility of an alien life.

According to the principal author, Danny Price this data represents a giant milestone for the Breakthrough Listen team. He added that the team went through several thousands of hours of observations from local stars, spread across billions of frequency channels but did not find any evidence of artificial signals. This does not draw any conclusion about the existence of alien life, it could mean that the right place has not yet been searched for, or weaker signals have not been detected.

To classify a signal as extraterrestrial or from human interference, researchers used a technique known as “nodding” telescope technique. Selecting a target, telescopes focus there for 5 minutes also called as ON and then shifts to a nearby spot for another 5 minutes known as OFF. This ON-OFF technique is repeated thrice and it helps to classify whether a signal is from a fixed spot or is coming from other directions, wherein it indicates an event due to human interference. Additional methods of machine learning were also employed for further filtering out the signals.

This is not the end for the Breakthrough team, as it will now move on to multi-wavelength analysis of the nearby stars and galaxies while searching for higher frequencies. Scientists are optimistic as there are many more stars and approaches for consideration.

Is Anybody Out There? (Alien Life Documentary)

Whenever I look up into the night sky, I get thousands of questions into my head immediately and some of them are like, Do aliens exist? Are aliens there watching us? If aliens exist, then how would they look like? Do aliens exist in another dimension? Are we alone in this vast universe? Are aliens there watching us? If aliens exist, then how would they look like? If aliens exist, why didn’t they contact us yet? What kind of intelligence would they have? and much more

I think almost everyone gets these questions into their brain at some time. So, watch the above video to get at least partial answers to some of the questions as no one on the planet knows exact answers to those questions. Researchers across the world are working very hard to find signs of extraterrestrial intelligence, watch the video and get to know what all are we doing to find aliens.

international space station

A recent experiment strengthens hope for life on Mars

Our chances of finding life on Mars have vastly increased, thanks to a groundbreaking new experiment. Scientists have discovered that certain simple organisms that are found on Earth can safely survive Mars’ brutal conditions for months on end. They stuck a canister filled with microbes to the outside ISS (International Space Station), exposing them to cosmic radiation and the vacuum of space for 18 gruesome months. Some of the tiny creatures somehow survived, thus proving that similar life could be hiding out on the red planet.

Dr. Jean-Pierre Paul de Vera at the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) in Cologne was quoted saying that some of the organisms and biomolecules have shown great resistance to radiation in the open space and even returned to Earth as ‘survivors’ of space.

He added that certain single-cell organisms would be the appropriate candidates for life forms that we could imagine on Mars. The result also adds credibility to the theory that life on Earth actually came from Mars. Experts think that our neighbor was home to microorganisms nearly 4 billion years ago and that an asteroid strike sent some chunks of Martian rocks flying into space. These chunks then collided with an early kind of our planet, depositing the microbes and leaving the foundations for all life on Earth. Scientists had already previously doubted whether any life could actually be able to survive the perilous trip from Mars, but the DLR study shows some organisms are more than proficient.

Terrestrial organisms that were stuck on the outside of the International Space Station (ISS) have been able to survive 533 days in the vacuum, intense ultraviolet radiation, and extreme temperature variations of space.

Out of all the planets in the Solar System, Mars seems like the most likely candidate to host life. But it’s extremely inhospitable, dusty, scorched, and inferior in gravity and oxygen, and has harsh radiation due to its thin atmosphere. It is cold and wracked by dust storms that can plummet the planet into darkness.

We have yet to detect life there, but there are a few ways we can test how viable its presence is. One is searching for life on planets similar to mars for environments on Earth.

In the current German Aerospace Center (DLR) led experiment called BIOMEX,  organisms such as bacteria, algae, lichens and fungi were unprotected to Mars-like conditions aboard the space station.

We know, hypothetically, that Mars has a bunch of the things we know life practices, including an atmosphere, elements such as carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, sulphur and phosphorus, water ice, and maybe even liquid water.

Expose R2 in space

The Expose-R2 facility. (Roscosmos)

So, organisms were cultivated in Martian soil simulants. They were then placed outside the space station in the Expose-R2 facility.

Hundreds of samples were thereby included in the experiment, some with the soil simulant and a virtual Mars atmosphere to boot.

There they stayed for almost 18 months between 2014 and 2016 before being brought back down to Earth for further analysis.

None of the equipment sent to Mars so far has detected life or any divulging signs of it. But eloquent that it could exist there, and what kinds of organisms are most likely to survive – will help to develop tools that could detect life on future Mars missions.