The Square Kilometer Array, which will be the widest radio telescope array when it opens and one of the most precise when it begins operation in 2020, combining 250 dishes. “This next-generation facility will be the first telescope capable of detecting Earth-level leakage from nearby stars,” says UC Berkeley SETI Research Center director Andrew Siemion.
“By far the biggest challenge in radio SETI is what we call radio frequency interference,” Siemion told Seeker. “Because we use our own technology as an example of what we should be looking for, we in fact find many, many examples of our own technology, and those examples actually pollute the signal that we see, especially with radio telescopes.”
“Technology exhibits a very high degree of what we call coherence, which means that ultimately electrons usually move in a very regular way through some piece of technology,” said Siemion. “That property of coherence is fundamentally the way in which we tell the difference between a natural astrophysical object and an example of technology.”
With AI it’s now possible to analyze data faster and search for signals through 10 billion radio channels as opposed to the hundred that could be investigated in the early days SETI investigations. Scientists are getting closer to finding out which part of the electromagnetic spectrum we should be watching if we expect a signal from another civilization, which should be distinct and exhibit consistency. SETI has only gone through a couple thousand star systems so far, compared to the over a hundred billion stars that could hosting advanced intelligent life.