One Russian billionaire is willing to put down some serious cash to find out. Yuri Milner recently invested $100 million in a new program called Breakthrough Initiatives which not only scans the entire Milky Way but also 100 of our neighboring galaxies.
What are they looking for?
Radio signals. This can include the typical communication we use between satellites or the signal from a laser (about as strong as the lights in your home). They will be using two different sites: Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia, and Parkes Telescope in New South Wales, Australia. These sites will be able to scan 5X the wavelength of previous similar programs at a more efficient rate. Progress!
Probably the best part about living in our generation is having the internet and the community that comes with it. Breakthrough Initiatives plans on taking advantage of the talent pool all around the world by leaving all of its data and its software open to the public. This means fellow science nerds can create programs to further investigate the data on their own and share their findings.
The second phase of the project is to send a message about our life on Earth and there is a $1,000,000 payment for the person who creates the best all encompassing view of our world. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, first let’s find our fellow friends.
This article was inspired by a recent article by the space gal Emily Calandrelli. Her article is more extensive and answers different questions than mine so I definitely recommend you check it out if you want to know more!