Posts Tagged ‘alien’

By Irene Klotz

Ice plumes shooting into space from Saturn’s ocean-bearing moon Enceladus contain hydrogen from hydrothermal vents, an environment that some scientists believe led to the rise of life on Earth, research publish”If correct, this observation has fundamental implications for the possibility of life on Enceladus,” geochemist Jeffrey Seewald, of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, wrote in a related commentary in Science.

The discovery was made using NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, which in September will end a 13-year mission exploring Saturn and its entourage of 62 known moons.

The detection of molecular hydrogen occurred in October 2015 during Cassini’s last pass through Enceladus’ plumes, when it skimmed 30 miles (49 km) above the moon’s southern pole taking samples.

In 2005, Cassini discovered Enceladus’s geysers, which shoot hundreds of miles into space. Some of the material falls back onto the surface as a fresh coat of ice, while much of the rest gathers into a halo of ice dust that feeds one of Saturn’s rings.ed on Thursday showed.

The discovery makes Enceladus the only place beyond Earth where scientists have found direct evidence of a possible energy source for life, according to the findings in the journal Science.

Similar conditions, in which hot rocks meet ocean water, may have been the cradle for the appearance of microbial life on Earth more than 4 billion years ago.

“If correct, this observation has fundamental implications for the possibility of life on Enceladus,” geochemist Jeffrey Seewald, of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, wrote in a related commentary in Science.

The discovery was made using NASA’s Cassini spacecraft, which in September will end a 13-year mission exploring Saturn and its entourage of 62 known moons.

The detection of molecular hydrogen occurred in October 2015 during Cassini’s last pass through Enceladus’ plumes, when it skimmed 30 miles (49 km) above the moon’s southern pole taking samples.

In 2005, Cassini discovered Enceladus’s geysers, which shoot hundreds of miles into space. Some of the material falls back onto the surface as a fresh coat of ice, while much of the rest gathers into a halo of ice dust that feeds one of Saturn’s rings.

A decade later, scientists measuring the moon’s slightly wobbly orbit around Saturn determined it holds a vast ocean buried 19- to 25 miles (30- to 40 km) beneath its icy shell. The ocean is believed to be the geysers’ source.

Several moons orbiting Jupiter and Saturn are known to contain underground oceans, but Enceladus is the only one where scientists have found proof of an energy source for life.

“We’re moving toward Enceladus’s ocean being habitable, but we’re not making any claims at this point about it being inhabited,” lead author Hunter Waite, with the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas, said in an interview.

“The next time we go back … you’re going to take something that not only picks up on the habitability story, but it starts looking for evidence for life.”

Enceladus has a diameter of 310 miles (500 km) and is one of Saturn’s innermost moons. The heat needed to keep its ocean from freezing is thought to come from tidal forces exerted by Saturn and a neighboring larger moon, Dione.

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-space-saturn-moon-idUSKBN17F2DR

By James Griffiths

Astronomers engaged in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) are training their instruments on a star around 94 light years from Earth after a very strong signal was detected by a Russian telescope.

An international team of researchers is now examining the radio signal and its star, HD 164595 — described in a paper by Italian astronomer Claudio Maccone and others as a “strong candidate for SETI” — in the hopes of determining its origin.

“The signal from HD 164595 is intriguing, because it comes from the vicinity of a sun-like star, and if it’s artificial, its strength is great enough that it was clearly made by a civilization with capabilities beyond those of humankind,” astronomer Douglas Vakoch, president of METI International, which searches for life beyond Earth, tells CNN.

Whenever a strong signal is detected, “it’s a good possibility for some nearby civilization to be detected,” Maccone tells CNN.

Paul Gilster of the Tau Zero Foundation, which conducts interstellar research, said that if the signal was artificial, its strength suggested it would have to come from a civilization more advanced than our own.

Such a civilization would likely be Type II on the Kardashev scale, an attempt by the Soviet astronomer of the same name to categorize various technological stages of civilizations.

“The Kardashev scale is based basically on the energy that that civilization might be able to funnel for its own use,” says Maccone.

At present, our own species is somewhere near Type I on the scale, whereby a civilization is able to harness all the energy available to it on its own planet, including solar, wind, earthquakes, and other fuels.

A Type II civilization would be able to harness the entirety of the energy emitted by its star, billions of billions of watts.

Doing so would require a colossal undertaking, likely the construction of some kind of superstructure, such as a giant sphere or swarm of super-advanced solar panels popularized by astronomer Freeman Dyson that could catch and store all radiation put out by the sun.

Scientists believe superstructures are probably our best chance of detecting alien life unless they are actively trying to communicate with us.

A Dyson sphere was one of the solutions suggested to the peculiar light fluctuations detected around Tabby’s Star, which caused great excitement when they were detected last year.

Maccone is working on developing an alternative mathematical measure of how advanced civilizations are, based on the amount of knowledge and information available to them, that “might help us in the future classify alien civilizations” that we detect.

What’s happening at HD 164595?

In a statement, Seth Shostak, a senior astronomer with the SETI Institute, said that “it’s hard to understand why anyone would want to target our solar system with a strong signal.”

“This star system is so far away they won’t have yet picked up on any TV or radar that would tell them that we’re here,” he added.

METI International will be observing the star from the Boquete Optical SETI Observatory in Panama, Vakoch says, “searching for any brief laser pulses that might be sent as a beacon from advanced extraterrestrials.”

He stressed the importance of all of the SETI community following up on a signal detected by any single member.

“Without corroboration from an independent observatory, a putative signal from extraterrestrials doesn’t have a lot of credibility.”

The SETI Institute is also examining HD 164595, using the Allen Telescope Array in California.

So far, the team has not found any signals to match those originally detected by the Russian telescope, but Shostak notes that “we have not yet covered the full range of frequencies in which the signal could be located.”

“A detection, of course, would immediately spur the SETI and radio astronomy communities to do more follow-up observations.”

According to Vakoch, “if this were really a signal from extraterrestrials, we’d want to survey the target star across as much of the electromagnetic spectrum as we could.”

So is it aliens?

Probably not, says Vakoch, pointing to potential technological interference or amplification through gravitational lensing, where a signal behind a planet or other large object appears to be far stronger than it actually is, as potential causes.

Maccone says gravitational lensing is “an important possibility that should be taken into account for future SETI research.”

“We should learn how to discriminate that against real extraterrestrial signals,” he added.

Vakoch says “the greatest limitation of the May 2015 signal is that it hasn’t been replicated. Before we can give any credence to a signal as coming from extraterrestrials, we need to see it repeatedly to make sure it wasn’t just a transient phenomenon.”

“It deserves at least a few hours of observing time by SETI researchers at other locations to make sure we don’t miss an opportunity to make first contact, however remote.”

If it does prove to be transient and unexplained, HD 164595 could become another “Wow! signal,” frustratingly tantalizing and mysterious in equal measures.

Shostak writes that “of course (it’s) possible” the signal could be from an extraterrestrial civilization, but without confirmation, “we can only say that it’s ‘interesting’.”

http://www.cnn.com/2016/08/30/health/seti-signal-hd-164595-alien-civilization/index.html

by Robby Berman

All the scientific studies in the world of this one mysterious star have so far ruled out every theory except one, and it’s the wildest one. The whole thing started when Yale astronomer Tabetha Boyajian located star KIC 8462852, unofficially known as “Tabby’s star,” after Boyajian. Tabby’s star is doing something very strange.

In 2009, NASA launched its Kepler probe to keep a close watch on a small section of the sky — the idea was to learn more about a smaller area than less about a larger one. The probe tracks how light reflected from stars dims and grows brighter. Generally, when a star dims, a planet has passed in front of it, and will again and again as it travels its orbital path.

Kepler’s found some 2,000+ planets orbiting stars and published its data to allow citizen scientists to confirm their findings. A group of people affiliated with Yale called Planet Finders started going over the data, and Boyajian found her star.

To start with, it’s unexpectedly dim for a star of its its size and age. But what really got her attention was this chart.

Each vertical dip represents a holy-cow reduction in the star’s brightness, more than 10 times the dimming that astronomers would expect from a planet even as big as Jupiter crossing in front of the star. So it appears it’s not a planet causing Tabby’s star to dim, which is why it’s also called the “WTF star,” after the paper they published about it titled “Where’s the Flux?”

The data suggests something huge is orbiting the star, but what?

The reason the WTF star is famous is the hypothesis put forward to explain the dimming by Penn State astronomer Jason Wright: That what’s orbiting the star could be a “swarm of megastructures,” alien-built energy collectors, much like terrestrial solar panels. Wright told The Atlantic, “When Boyajian showed me the data, I was fascinated by how crazy it looked. Aliens should always be the very last hypothesis you consider, but this looked like something you would expect an alien civilization to build.” He was imagining something like a Dyson sphere.

Crazy, right? Well, since then scientists have been frantically pushing out other hypotheses to explain the anomaly.

Here are some of the more normal theories, and why they’re probably wrong:
•Kepler was malfunctioning — Nope.
•It’s a cloud of dust from star formation — But the star isn’t young. It shows no sign of the infrared light that indicates a new star.
•It’s a swarm of comets — But the dimming is too extreme to be caused by comets.
•It’s debris from colliding planets — But that matter would get sucked into the star so quickly it would be unlikely to linger long enough for us to see it.

http://bigthink.com/robby-berman/science-keeps-not-debunking-the-alien-dyson-sphere-idea?utm_source=Big+Think+Weekly+Newsletter+Subscribers&utm_campaign=344e51650c-Newsletter_081716&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_6d098f42ff-344e51650c-41106061

By Amanda Jackson

The truth is out there: The CIA has released hundreds of declassified documents detailing investigations into possible alien life.

The Central Intelligence Agency posted documents of reported Unidentified Flying Objects that range in date from the late 1940s to the 1950s. While playing off the hype of the TV show reboot “The X-Files,” the CIA broke down the cases into two categories, whether you side with Agent Mulder or Agent Scully.

For believers in alien life, and those who want to channel your inner Mulder, one case you can choose to investigate is the case of a flying saucer in Germany in 1952.

According to CIA reports, an eyewitness told investigators that an object “resembling a huge flying pan” landed in a forest clearing in the Soviet zone of Germany in 1952. The eyewitness said once he was closer to the area where it landed, he saw two men dressed in shiny metallic clothing. The men were stooped over looking at a large object but were spooked by the eyewitness. The mysterious men jumped into the large flying pan object and it spun out into the sky.

“The whole object then began to rise slowly from the ground and rotate like a top,” the eyewitness told the CIA.

The man told a judge he thought he was dreaming but said there was a circular imprint on the ground where the object had landed.

If that case intrigues you, there are four more listed on the CIA blog post.

But if you are more of a skeptic like Scully, and believe there is a simple explanation for flying saucer sightings, then the documents from the scientific advisory panel on UFOs in 1953 will help you prove your case.

According to the documents, panel members met to discuss the lack of sound data and reasonable explanations in a handful of sightings from 1952. The panel concluded unanimously that there was no evidence of direct threat to national security by the object sightings. Some of the explanations for the “flying saucers” and “balls of light” were determined to be from military aircraft, light reflected from ice crystals, birds and bright sunlight rays.

To investigate the other cases or to learn how to investigate your own, visit the CIA blog: https://www.cia.gov/news-information/blog/2016/take-a-peek-into-our-x-files.html

http://www.cnn.com/2016/01/29/us/cia-releases-x-files-ufo-investigations-irpt/index.html

British astrophysicist and cosmologist, Sir Martin Rees, believes if we manage to detect aliens, it will not be by stumbling across organic life, but from picking up a signal made by machines.

It’s likely these machines will have evolved from organic alien beings, and that humans will also make the transition from biological to mechanical in the future.

Sir Martin said that while the way we think has led to all culture and science on Earth, it will be a brief precursor to more powerful machine ‘brains’.

He thinks that life away from Earth has probably already gone through this transition from organic to machine.

On a planet orbiting a star far older than the sun, life ‘may have evolved much of the way toward a dominant machine intelligence,’ he writes.

Sir Martin believes it could be one or two more centuries before humans are overtaken by machine intelligence, which will then evolve over billions of years, either with us, or replacing us.

‘This suggests that if we were to detect ET, it would be far more likely to be inorganic: We would be most unlikely to “catch” alien intelligence in the brief sliver of time when it was still in organic form,’ he writes.

Despite this, the astronomer said Seti searches are worthwhile, because the stakes are so high.

Seti seeks our electromagnetic transmissions thought to be made artificially, but even if it did hit the jackpot and detect a possible message sent by aliens, Sir Martin says it is unlikely we would be able to decode it.

He thinks such a signal would probably be a byproduct or malfunction of a complex machine far beyond our understanding that could trace its lineage back to organic alien beings, which may still exist on a planet, or have died out.

He also points out that even if intelligence is widespread across the cosmos, we may only ever recognise a fraction of it because ‘brains’ may take a form unrecognisable to humans.

For example, instead of being an alien civilisation, ET may be a single integrated intelligence.

He mused that the galaxy may already teem with advanced life and that our descendants could ‘plug in’ to a galactic community.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3285966/Is-ET-ROBOT-Astronomer-Royal-believes-aliens-transitioned-organic-forms-machines-humans-same.html#ixzz3pOiCcJY8