Habitable Zones & Global Climate

How Far Are Extraterrestrial Life and Intelligence After Kepler?

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
December 12, 2016
Filed under
How Far Are Extraterrestrial Life and Intelligence After Kepler?

The Kepler mission has shown that a significant fraction of all stars may have an Earth-size habitable planet. A dramatic support was the recent detection of Proxima Centauri b.

Using a Drake-equation like formalism I derive an equation for the abundance of biotic planets as a function of the relatively modest uncertainty in the astronomical data and of the (yet unknown) probability for the evolution of biotic life, Fb. I suggest that Fb may be estimated by future spectral observations of exoplanet biomarkers.

It follows that if Fb is not very small, then a biotic planet may be expected within about 10 light years from Earth. Extending this analyses to advanced life, I derive expressions for the distance to putative civilizations in terms of two additional Drake parameters – the probability for evolution of a civilization, Fc, and its average longevity. Assuming “optimistic” values for the Drake parameters, (Fb~Fc~1), and a broadcasting duration of a few thousand years, the likely distance to the nearest civilizations detectable by SETI is of the order of a few thousand light years.

Finally I calculate the distance and probability of detecting intelligent signals with present and future radio telescopes such as Arecibo and SKA and how it could constrain the Drake parameters.

Amri Wandel
(Submitted on 12 Dec 2016)

Comments: 12 pages, 4 figures, to appear in Acta Astronautica; presented in the International Congress of Astronautics, Jerusalem (4.1.1), 2015. arXiv admin note: substantial text overlap with arXiv:1412.1302
Subjects: Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)
Cite as: arXiv:1612.03844 [astro-ph.EP] (or arXiv:1612.03844v1 [astro-ph.EP] for this version)
Submission history
From: Amri Wandel
[v1] Mon, 12 Dec 2016 18:43:22 GMT (734kb)

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) 🖖🏻