Monday, December 18, 2017

“Somebody's Watching Me” – Some Scientists are watching a cigar shaped asteroid that they think just may be watching us!

An odd, cigar shaped object or asteroid, traveling at about 85,700 mph is currently grabbing a lot of attention.

Named “Oumuamua”, this asteroid comes from the constellation Lyra (Where you can find that super bright star Vega), a full twenty-five light years away.

The SETI Institute, which employs over 130 scientists, educators, and support staff with a mission statement of “Our mission is to explore, understand, and explain the origin and nature of life in the universe, and to apply the knowledge gained to inspire and guide present and future generations,” has been scanning Oumuamua with the Allen Telescope Array spending in excess of 60 hours checking for transmissions over a wide range of frequencies. There is another SETI project, Breakthrough Listen, which has plans to devote 10 hours to scrutinizing the same asteroid using a large antenna in West Virginia.

The expected outcome? Radio silence. But maybe, just maybe, Oumuamua is someone else’s attempt to watch & listen to us.

This is actually based on some real data. Most experts that believe interstellar travel is possible suggest that a ship would probably be shaped like a cigar or needle, as it would be lean and aerodynamic enough to minimize friction and slim the chances of colliding with another asteroid or space-object not to mention any harmful gas and dust. Because of how solid it appears and how fast it’s moving, ‘Oumuamua (fyi -  means scout or messenger in Hawaiian) is unique. Given its high speeds Oumuamua will be making a fast exit from our solar system but not before scientists aim to figure out whether the ‘rock’ might actually be an alien spacecraft—either for living beings/aliens or perhaps a robotic probe.

Breakthrough Initiatives, you may know of the group, remember Russian billionaire Yuri Milner, to study the galaxy for signs of extraterrestrials, is most famous for its Stephen Hawking–backed Starshot project to send cheap spacecraft to Alpha Centauri at one-fifth the speed of light to find signs of habitability or alien life. Its more conventional SETI sister project, Listen, uses radio telescopes to scan space and listen for complex radio signals that might be signs of an alien civilization.

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