Stephen Hawking announced $100 million project to find intelligent life among the stars. New technology lets astronomers scan the galaxy like never before.
The Breakthrough Listen project announced the launch of an expanded survey of stars in the Milky Way made possible by a “multi-beam” receiver installed on Australia’s Parkes Radio Telescope.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Russian investor Yuri Milner and Hawking launched Breakthrough Listen in 2015. It collects massive amounts of deep space data and makes it public to identify signals pointing to alien life.
The new receiver will rely on 13 beams to scan space, quickly pulling data researchers will analyze “for signals that have indications of artificial origin,” according to the project’s announcement.
“With these new capabilities, we are scanning our galaxy in unusual way,” Danny Price, Breakthrough’s Parkes Project Scientist at UC Berkeley, said in a statement.
According to the project Engineers from UC Berkeley installed the instrumentation, which will assist the telescope as it logs 1,500 hours of observations this year. Data compiled during those hours will later be archived and analyzed for signals stemming from extraterrestrial technology.
According to the project says the “vast majority” of signals picked up in such data come from earthlings. New receiver will also help sift through white noise to find relevant signals.
“We should be careful of answering back Aliens message,” the late Hawking said. Breakthrough Listen began using the Parkes telescope, located in New South Wales. But the Parkes at that time mostly looked at relatively nearby stars within a sample.