New Telescope Joins Alien Hunt

Low-frequency array checks for nearby ETs
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 11, 2008 2:47 PM CDT
This image provided by NASA shows Saturn's moon Enceladus is seen here as a white disk across the unilluminated side of Saturn's rings (black and white stripes across the bottom of the image). This image...   (AP Photo/NASA)
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(Newser) – If ET is within a hop, skip, and a solar system, a shiny new European telescope might just turn him up, reports. Made up of up to 25,000 antennae scattered throughout Europe, the LOFAR, or Low Frequency Array, will be able to scan light signals overlooked by higher-frequency telescopes of yore. If aliens are like us, they’ll use those frequencies for radio and TV signals.

Picking up Klingon FM is pretty unlikely, scientists admit—“To think that ET television will still be broadcast into space the way we do, I think is being a bit naïve,” said one astronomer—and LOFAR has its limitations, like its unimpressive 1 light-year range. But it can scan huge swaths of sky at once, so even the briefest alien flicker shouldn’t escape its gaze.