Astronomers at the University of California, Berkeley are aiming a radio telescope for detecting signals of alien life on 86 possible Earth-like planets.
The search began when the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope – the largest steerable radio telescope in the world – dedicated an hour to eight stars with possible planets on May 8.
“It’s not absolutely certain that all of these stars have habitable planetary systems, but they’re very good places to look for ET,” said, Berkeley graduate student Andrew Siemion.
The Green Bank telescope will stare for about five minutes at stars in the Kepler survey that have a candidate planet in the star’s habitable zone-that is, the planet has a surface temperature at which liquidater could be maintained.
“We’ve picked out the planets with nice temperatures-between zero and 100 degrees Celsius-because they are a lot more likely to harbor life,” said physicist Dan Werthimer.
After the Green Bank telescope has targeted each star, it will scan the entire Kepler field for signals from planets other than the 86 targets.
The complete analysis for intelligent signals could take a year, Werthimer said.