Sky's the Limit in Powerful New Searches for Alien Life

Pioneering technology rachets up ET hunt
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 21, 2008 4:27 AM CST
A computer-generated simulation provided by the Lowell Observatory of an alien planet called TrES-4, with its host star on the right. Scientists are discovering more new planets all the time and many...   (Associated Press)
camera-icon View 4 more images

(Newser) – Powerful new instruments will help scientists in their search for extra-terrestrial life, the Christian Science Monitor writes. New telescopes will make it possible for the SETI Institute to scan millions of star systems for alien radio signals. Only a thousand have been analyzed in detail so far, but the institute hopes to get more new data in the next two years than it has collected in the last half-century. 

The search for exoplanets—planets outside our solar system—will also help the hunt for ETs. Nearly 300 exoplanets have already been found, including two new discovered just last week. Most are gas giants but new instruments will help astronomers spot Earth-like planets, and even judge how life-friendly they could be, a task one astronomer called "a priority of enormous resonance, both scientific and emotional."