SETI: Searching the Skies for Signs of Life
Listen to our report on Alan Penny’s SETI work.
Penny is an Associate Professor and Visiting Scientist at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. In the course of his career as an astronomer, he has worked on the photometry of bright stars, extra-solar planets and the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, or SETI.
He spent a year at the SETI Institute in California, which has now been forced to put its search on hold due to funding issues. For now, its telescopes are in “hibernation.” The analysis of the data already collected, however, does continue at the SETI Institute.
Penny calls the SETI Institute’s funding crisis “a severe blow.” But he says he remains committed to searching for alien signals. He is currently the Principal Investigator on a project that hopes to use Europe’s Low Frequency Array, or LOFAR, radio telescope to scan the skies for what could be signals created by alien civilizations.
So what exactly is Penny listening out for, and how can LOFAR assist in that search? What would an alien signal sound like, and how would we respond if we heard it? Bring your thoughts and questions to the conversation.