SETI & Technosignatures

Searching for Extraterrestrial Intelligence with the Square Kilometre Array

By Keith Cowing
December 16, 2014
Filed under
Searching for Extraterrestrial Intelligence with the Square Kilometre Array

The vast collecting area of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), harnessed by sensitive receivers, flexible digital electronics and increased computational capacity, could permit the most sensitive and exhaustive search for technologically-produced radio emission from advanced extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) ever performed.

For example, SKA1-MID will be capable of detecting a source roughly analogous to terrestrial high-power radars (e.g. air route surveillance or ballistic missile warning radars, EIRP (EIRP = equivalent isotropic radiated power, ~10^17 erg sec^-1) at 10 pc in less than 15 minutes, and with a modest four beam SETI observing system could, in one minute, search every star in the primary beam out to ~100 pc for radio emission comparable to that emitted by the Arecibo Planetary Radar (EIRP ~2 x 10^20 erg sec^-1). The flexibility of the signal detection systems used for SETI searches with the SKA will allow new algorithms to be employed that will provide sensitivity to a much wider variety of signal types than previously searched for.

Here we discuss the astrobiological and astrophysical motivations for radio SETI and describe how the technical capabilities of the SKA will explore the radio SETI parameter space. We detail several conceivable SETI experimental programs on all components of SKA1, including commensal, primary-user, targeted and survey programs and project the enhancements to them possible with SKA2. We also discuss target selection criteria for these programs, and in the case of commensal observing, how the varied use cases of other primary observers can be used to full advantage for SETI.

Andrew P. V. Siemion, James Benford, Jin Cheng-Jin, Jayanth Chennamangalam, James Cordes, David R. DeBoer, Heino Falcke, Mike Garrett, Simon Garrington, Leonid Gurvits, Melvin Hoare, Eric J. Korpela, Joseph Lazio, David Messerschmitt, Ian S. Morrison, Tim O’Brien, Zsolt Paragi, Alan Penny, Laura Spitler, Jill Tarter, Dan Werthimer

(Submitted on 16 Dec 2014)

Comments: 15 pages, 7 figures, in proceedings of “Advancing Astrophysics with the Square Kilometre Array”, PoS(AASKA14)116, in Press

Subjects: Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics (astro-ph.IM); Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)

Cite as: arXiv:1412.4867 [astro-ph.IM] (or arXiv:1412.4867v1 [astro-ph.IM] for this version)

Submission history

From: Andrew Siemion

[v1] Tue, 16 Dec 2014 03:20:34 GMT (2266kb,D)

Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA Space Station Payload manager/space biologist, Away Teams, Journalist, Lapsed climber, Synaesthete, Na’Vi-Jedi-Freman-Buddhist-mix, ASL, Devon Island and Everest Base Camp veteran, (he/him) 🖖🏻