Infrared Laser Technology Could Technically Attract Aliens, but Probably Won't

An artist’s concept of the TRAPPIST-1 system. | Credits NASA  JPL-Caltech

The study notes that the massive 1-2 megawatt laser comes with its own safety issues.

The goal of the laser-telescope rig is the creation of an energy beam, meant to stand out amid all of the excess noise in the solar system. Clark emphasizes that if this laser be seen by alien astronomers, they can use the same technology to communicate with the inhabitants of the Earth.

"If we were to successfully close a handshake and start to communicate, we could flash a message, at a data rate of about a few hundred bits per second, which would get there in just a few years", explains James Clark, MIT physicist, and study author. Any distant astronomer looking at our section of the galaxy would also have to look directly at the laser to see the beam making detection of the beacon highly unlikely, admits researchers.

The laser beacon to alien life should be built upon a mountain, according to Clark, in order to minimize the amount of atmosphere the beam would have to break through before shining into space.

Just a few days after Harvard University researchers suggested that aliens may have sent a probe into our solar system, new research out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology suggests that we may soon be able to signal our presence to extraterrestrials by using a high-powered laser beam. And if we fashioned a 1-megawatt laser to 45-meter telescope, astronomers in TRAPPIST-1, a system of exoplanets about 40-light years away, could clearly detect our signal. Either setup, he estimated, could produce a generally detectable signal from up to 20,000 light-years away. For instance, Clark calculated that the required laser power of 1 to 2 megawatts is equivalent to that of the U.S. Air Force's Airborne Laser, a now-defunct megawatt laser that was meant to fly aboard a military jet for the objective of shooting ballistic missiles out of the sky. However, Clark points out, that could soon change: The Extremely Large Telescope is now under construction by the European Space Organization, with its projected size of 39 meters in diameter. MIT warns that the "beam would produce a flux density of about 800 watts of power per square meter, which is approaching that of the sun, which generates about 1,300 watts per square meter".


Clark's study shows that building this magnified laser is possible and that it could serve as a signal to alien life.

Both scenarios would require laser and telescope technology that has either already been developed, or is within practical reach.

The powerful laser would be focused through a telescope aimed toward space. It could also interfere with spacecraft cameras as they pass by the infrared signal. A safer location than Earth would be on the far side of the moon.

At the present time, impossible to tell whether we are alone in the universe and if this is not the case, scientists are ready to do anything to attract the aliens to us ...

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