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Moon Space Science

SETI To Scour the Moon For Alien Footprints? 167

astroengine writes "Although we have an entire universe to seek out the proverbial alien needle in a haystack, perhaps looking in our own backyard would be a good place to start. That's the conclusions reached by Paul Davies and Robert Wagner of Arizona State University, anyway. The pair have published a paper in the journal Acta Astronautica detailing how SETI could carry out a low-cost crowdsourcing program (a la SETI@Home) to scour the lunar surface for alien artifacts, thereby gaining clues on whether intelligent aliens are out there and whether they've paid the solar system a visit in the moon's recent history."
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SETI To Scour the Moon For Alien Footprints?

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  • first (Score:0, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @06:26PM (#38508038)

    Look into the oceans then aim for the moon

  • bullseye? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by vlm ( 69642 ) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @06:45PM (#38508284)

    I can't read the article, but wouldn't it be better to plant non-visual clues if we were trying to signal to an alien civilization?

    Maybe... concentric rings of something weird for the moon, like an obscure U isotope? with something cool buried at the bullseye?

    A bored physicist spending too much time with a cyclotron separator on a lonely posting on the far end of the galaxy could be pretty entertaining if he got a bit squirrely in carrying out his mission. How about some weird isotope that is mostly stable and can only be made in a reactor? Maybe some Tc-98? The Ru-98 decay product is stable, and a high concentration of Ru-98 laying about would be almost as bizarre as finding Tc-98 laying about.

    I think driving a mass spectrometer around the planets and moons would be an interesting scientific study regardless of SETI implications.

    For that matter, if "they" planted a decorative geometric care package of Tc-98 on the moon, I'm not entirely clear why "they" couldn't have done something similar here, somewhere geologically stable-ish.

    Interestingly enough, more than 100 yrs ago all this Tc-98 talk would have been meaningless. Its hard to say how future techs might find even weirder stuff. If there is any real world prime directive, it might not rely on being observed, the galactic "you must be this tall for the ride" chart might be observing something really weird once we have quantum computers or a convenient portable intense hand held source of higgs particles.

    I would imagine a really bored physicist could do other odd Fortean stuff, like bury a giant freaking microwave waveguide turned into an interdigital filter with passbands such that you whack it with a strong white noise source the resulting output displayed on a spectrum analyzer is a crazy morse code/rs-232 like signal saying "hi", or maybe "dig here for care package". Even just burying radar retroreflectors in a geometric pattern would totally freak out the radar guys.

    Note to boss: Do not send vlm on boring interplanetary field posting or he's really going to intensely F with the native's heads once he goes bonkers, or more bonkers anyway.

  • Re:Our own backyard? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @06:50PM (#38508332) Homepage Journal

    Why on the moon? Why not in a high orbit around the earth. No need to land anything and it would be easier to spot for any technologically advanced society. Put a really big shinny metal ball in orbit at say 70,000 km and it will stay in orbit for geological time scales and if big enough be visible with a telescope from earth. How bit it needs to be will depend on how shiny and how bit of a telescope you are using. It doesn't have to be heavy just big.

  • by ack_call ( 870944 ) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @06:50PM (#38508334) []

    I want to believe it's real - but if this really is on the moon then I think we'd have been visiting the moon more frequently to study its construction and the technology it would hold - but we haven't so for that reason I don't believe.
  • by wisebabo ( 638845 ) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @07:32PM (#38508838) Journal

    Near the lamppost.


    "Because that's where the light is!"

    Sort of the same reasoning is at play here, we are looking for the "keys" on the moon not because that's the best way to find SETI but because well it's "easy" (just crowd source it) and cheap (as long as we've already got hi-res photos of much of the moons surface).

    It should not be viewed as a replacement for other more serious efforts (that will actually cost money).

  • Re:first (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Baloroth ( 2370816 ) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @08:34PM (#38509508)

    The problem is most of the ocean is dark. Like, really, really, dark. The depth alone isn't a problem. The darkness, combined with the extremely limited visibility, is. You can see the entire surface of the moon from, well, just step outside on a night with a full moon. The bottom of ocean? Not so much. You can even make a precise survey of the lunar surface's height using laser rangefinding. Down to about 40m (vertical, 100m horizontal), which isn't bad at all. The closest thing for the ocean is sonar, and that is nowhere near as precise.

    Don't remember where I heard it, but some scientist once commented that we know more about the surface of Mars than we do about our own ocean. It is surprisingly difficult to survey the ocean. According to the NOAA: "Yet for all of our reliance on the ocean, 95 percent of this realm remains unexplored, unseen by human eyes." (source []). There is a reason we are still discovering new life in the ocean (and a lot of it too).

  • Re:Our own backyard? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cavreader ( 1903280 ) on Tuesday December 27, 2011 @08:52PM (#38509658)
    If clear evidence of extraterrestrials is ever found can you imagine the gigantic shit storm it would create? Just watching all the various religions running around in circles trying to fit the fact into their sacred canons would be hilarious. Back in the day anyone claiming the Earth was round and not flat were labeled heretics and killed. Galileo's observations of the basic structure of the solar system almost got him killed.
  • Re:Our own backyard? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by cavreader ( 1903280 ) on Wednesday December 28, 2011 @12:46AM (#38511656)
    Most main stream religions seem to pontificate about how God created man in is own image. The main religions of the world which are Christianity and Islam were created are to serve as a control mechanism that allowed the people at the top to gain power and wealth. Organized religion is responsible for unspeakable acts of cruelty that have more more to do with maintaining power and wealth for it's leaders than it does for providing comfort for the regular worshipper. Islam is especially good example of how to keep people on their knees far better than any monarchy or similar political system could. The religious leaders through the ages have used their power to extract subservience to the church or mosques using "God" as the control. I have always believed that the religions think in small terms. In order for man or any other lifeforms to exists first requires the creation of the entire universe before it can be populated with lifeforms but the major religions on Earth define it as the center of all creation. Politicians of all types mouth religious proclamations to gain power. The US leaders who mention God do so knowing they really have nothing to lose and pandering to religions to obtain votes from the religious blocks of voters. To me religious faith is a personal and internal state of mind that does not depend on practicing man made made rituals and relying on books written by man. In my opinion discovering that humanity is not alone in the universe can lessen the religious power that know is used to control people.

1 1 was a race-horse, 2 2 was 1 2. When 1 1 1 1 race, 2 2 1 1 2.