SETI & Technosignatures

The Breakthrough Listen Search for Intelligent Life: Nearby Stars’ Close Encounters with the Brightest Earth Transmissions

By Keith Cowing
Status Report
April 17, 2023
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The Breakthrough Listen Search for Intelligent Life: Nearby Stars’ Close Encounters with the Brightest Earth Transmissions
The ephemerides of all five spacecraft on the Mollweide projection from the beginning to the end of the dates used for this search. Red points highlight the start dates of each ephemeris. Black points highlight end dates. White stars highlight the dates when Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 leave the heliosphere. White diamonds highlight the dates when Pioneer 10, Pioneer 11, and New Horizons crossed Neptune’s orbit. The legend shows which color correlates to which spacecraft’s ephemeris. — astro-ph.SR

After having left the heliosphere, Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 continue to travel through interstellar space. The Pioneer 10, Pioneer 11, and New Horizons spacecraft are also on paths to pass the heliopause. These spacecraft have communicated with the Deep Station Network (DSN) radio antennas in order to download scientific data and telemetry data.

Outward transmissions from DSN travel to the spacecraft and beyond into interstellar space. These transmissions have encountered and will encounter other stars, introducing the possibility that intelligent life in other solar systems will encounter our terrestrial transmissions.

We use the beamwidth of the transmissions between DSN and interstellar spacecraft to perform a search around the past and future positions of each spacecraft obtained from the JPL Horizons System. By performing this search over the Gaia Catalogue of Nearby Stars (GCNS), a catalogue of precisely mapped stars within 100 pc, we determine which stars the transmissions of these spacecraft will encounter.

We highlight stars that are in the background of DSN transmissions and calculate the dates of these encounters to determine the time and place for potential intelligent extraterrestrial life to encounter terrestrial transmissions.

Reilly Derrick, Howard Isaacson

Subjects: Solar and Stellar Astrophysics (astro-ph.SR); Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics (astro-ph.IM)
Cite as: arXiv:2304.07400 [astro-ph.SR] (or arXiv:2304.07400v1 [astro-ph.SR] for this version)
Journal reference: Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, Volume 135, Issue 1045, id.034201, 7 pp., (2023)
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Submission history
From: Howard Isaacson
[v1] Fri, 14 Apr 2023 21:28:35 UTC (875 KB)
Astrobiology, SETI,

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) 🖖🏻