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Abstract

The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) has a low probability of success, but it would have a high impact if successful. Therefore it makes sense to widen the search as much as possible within the confines of the modest budget and limited resources currently available. To date, SETI has been dominated by the paradigm of seeking deliberately beamed radio messages.

However, indirect evidence for extraterrestrial intelligence could come from any incontrovertible signatures of non-human technology. Existing searchable databases from astronomy, biology, earth and planetary sciences all offer low-cost opportunities to seek a footprint of extraterrestrial technology. In this paper we take as a case study one particular new and rapidly-expanding database: the photographic mapping of the Moon's surface by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) to 0.5 m resolution. Although there is only a tiny probability that alien technology would have left traces on the moon in the form of an artifact or surface modification of lunar features, this location has the virtue of being close, and of preserving traces for an immense duration.

Systematic scrutiny of the LRO photographic images is being routinely conducted anyway for planetary science purposes, and this program could readily be expanded and outsourced at little extra cost to accommodate SETI goals, after the fashion of the SETI@home and Galaxy Zoo projects.

 

 

Highlights

? Alien civilizations may have sent probes to our region of the galaxy. ? Any mission to the solar system would probably have occurred a very long time ago. The lunar environment could preserve artifacts for millions of years. ? Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter provides a photographic database to search for artifacts. ? Searching the LRO database would make an excellent educational project

 

 

Keywords: SETI; Lunar reconnaissance orbiter; Extraterrestrial technology; Nuclear waste; Lava tubes; Regolith