Johns Hopkins University Professor Richard Conn Henry is joining forces with Seth Shostak of the SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) Institute and Steven Kilston of the Henry Foundation Inc., a Maryland think tank, to search a swath of the sky known as the ecliptic plane.
The telescope array, consisting of hundreds of small dishes, provides the capability to search for possible signals from technologically advanced civilizations in the galaxy.
"If those civilizations are out there … those that inhabit star systems that lie close to the plane of the Earth's orbit around the sun will be the most motivated to send communications signals toward Earth," Henry said, "because those civilizations will surely have detected our annual transit across the face of the sun, telling them Earth lies in a habitable zone, where liquid water is stable. Through spectroscopic analysis of our atmosphere, they will know Earth likely bears life."
The researchers presented their plans last week in St. Louis during a meeting of the American Astronomical Society.
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