Improved alien detection instrument installed on Haleakalā


LaserSETI devices installed at the top of Haleakalā

Ongoing research into the potential to find alien life has taken a powerful boost at the top of Haleakalā. the SETI The Institute recently completed the installation of two laser instruments on the rooftops of an existing building on Haleakalā, which will expand the field of view for astronomers, allowing them to monitor a larger encompassing area of ​​the sky. The University of Hawaii Institute of Astronomy (If a) operates and oversees observatories atop the famous Maui Mauna, including some of the world’s leading astronomical research facilities.


“The possibility that life exists elsewhere is exciting to the public, especially with the reports of biologically interesting molecules in the atmosphere of Venus, the selection of two Venus missions by NASA, the Mars Perseverance rover mission and the upcoming Europa mission. Clipper to explore Jupiter’s moon, ”said If a Professor Karen meech. “EUH has long been involved in astrobiology to explore the possibility of life elsewhere, both through research related to the formation of habitable worlds, the discovery of exoplanets, and the development of innovative new mirror technologies and telescope to detect planets. It’s exciting to add new direction to this investigation by researching tech signatures. “

The instruments are part of SETIrevolutionary astronomy program, LaserSETI, designed to detect potential laser pulses originating outside the solar system. Each laserSETI The device consists of two identical cameras rotated 90 degrees to each other along the line of sight. They work by using a transmission network to divide light sources into spectra, then read the camera over a thousand times per second.

This summer the SETI The Institute has started the installations in Haleakalā. Observations are enabled and data collection is in progress. Devices were ready in September 2020, but delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic prevented LaserSETI staff to be on site. the SETI the institute has credited If a astronomers and engineers for critical assistance throughout the setup process.

Widen the hunt for potential life


The first two LaserSETI instruments were installed at the Robert Ferguson Observatory in Sonoma, California. In Maui, the new cameras will be aimed east, while California devices will be aimed west. The two observatories will provide simultaneous coverage of the sky over the Pacific, which is particularly important in demonstrating that the origin of a potential signal is not simply a laser altimeter of a satellite or an aircraft passing through. -above.

“LaserSETI is trying to take a big step forward in the search for technosignatures, that is, evidence of life from beyond Earth, ”said Eliot Gillum, Principal Investigator at LaserSETI. “This is the first optical or radio astronomical project designed to cover the whole sky. “

Traditionally, optical SETI the projects relied on photomultiplier tubes to detect laser flashes, making them essentially single-pixel cameras and only viewing a small part of the sky. LaserSETI uses two cameras with commercial lenses that image approximately 75 degrees of the sky. While stars will produce a full spectrum from blue to red, a laser will only appear at its characteristic wavelength. Since the devices are wide angle, it is possible to cover the entire night sky with a relatively small number of them, thus reducing costs.

Damage resulting from transport prevented the instruments from becoming operational in August, when they were installed. Repairs were carried out in September by If a staff and October by the SETI Institute to put them online. In 2022, LaserSETI will replace two of the four cameras on Haleakalā to bring the system to its full functionality.


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