Researchers from USA’s Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have recently revealed their plans to develop a giant, laser-based ‘porch light’ of sorts, that can allow aliens to find us (the Earth) more easily. This comes in the wake of studies over a recent asteroid that Harvard-based astrophysicists are considering an alien ‘light-sail’ probe. Researchers at MIT have been hard at work, trying to work on a ‘radical plan’ to contact alien life on our own. They have come to the conclusion that a laser, focused through a telescope pointed at outer space can potentially be used as an invitation, or a ‘beacon’. MIT scientists predict that such a system will make it possible for astronomers (presumably from an alien civilization) to detect it from as far as 20,000 light years away from Earth! The team working on this project at MIT has also confirmed that the beacon can be developed with the help of existing technologies, and a combination of near-future innovations.
Invitational beacon for aliens can be setup using existing lasers
The MIT team published a paper in the Astrophysical journal, describing how a high-power 1/2 Megawatt laser can be targeted at outer space using a 30-45 meter long telescope, in order to create an invitation signal, or a beacon. They claim that this configuration will generate infrared (IR) radiation that is so strong, that an intelligent extraterrestrial species will be able to differentiate it from the IR rays emanating from a nearby star such as the Sun. The team also suggests that this infrastructure can possibly be used to transmit brief messages if and when contact is established with an alien species.
“If we were to successfully close a handshake and start to communicate, we could flash a message, at a data rate of about a few hundred bits per second, which would get there in just a few years.” – James Clark (Graduate Student at MIT’s Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics)
Clark also went on to explain that while the project might seem challenging to build, it was not impossible to execute. He and his team are confident that the type of lasers and telescopes that are in commercial production today are capable of producing a detectable, reasonably strong signal – so that astronomers from any intelligent species can easily spot it and realize that there is ‘something unusual’ about its spectrum, when compared to the natural radiation from stars. And while we don’t know for sure if aliens poking around for signs of life would place their bets on the Sun and the solar system, Clark is confident that the presence of such a signal will certainly ‘attract further attention’.