For immediate release, May 30, 2013
Contact: Caisey Harlingten, Searchlight Observatory Network, (778) 668-1492, firstname.lastname@example.org
New ET detection method leads to quest for world's largest telescope
recently, one of the ultimate mysteries of the universe -- how many
civilizations may exist on planets orbiting other stars in the Milky Way
Galaxy -- relied on the possibility of detecting intelligent beings by
radio signals. Now a team of astronomers, engineers, and physicists from
the University of Hawaii, the University of Freiburg, and elsewhere has
proposed a new and powerful technique to search for intelligent life.
The revolutionary method is described by four of the team's astronomers in the June 2013 issue of Astronomy magazine
the world's largest magazine on the subject, with a print and web
readership of half a million each month. The story, "How to find ET with
infrared light," was written by Jeff R. Kuhn of the University of
Hawaii's Institute for Astronomy, Svetlana V. Berdyugina of the
University of Freiburg and the Kiepenheuer Institute for Solar Physics
in Germany, David Halliday of Dynamic Structures, Ltd., in British
Columbia, and Caisey Harlingten of the Searchlight Observatory Network
in The Grange, Norwich, England.
than looking for radio waves, the team suggests searching for the heat
signatures of nearby planets, which requires a giant telescope that
could detect infrared radiation directly from an exoplanet, thus
revealing the presence of a civilization.
energy footprint of life and civilization appears as infrared heat
radiation," says Kuhn, the project's lead scientist. "A convenient
way to describe the strength of this signal is in terms of total stellar
power that is incident on the host planet." The technique arises from
the fact that a civilization produces power that adds to the heat on a
planet, beyond the heat received from its host star. A large enough
telescope, idealized for infrared detection, could survey planets
orbiting stars within 60 light-years of the Sun to see whether or not
they host civilizations.
THE COLOSSUS TELESCOPE
quest for direct infrared detection of extraterrestrial civilizations,
along with many other research possibilities, has led the team to the
funding and building of a giant telescope. Currently planned large
infrared telescopes, the Giant Magellan Telescope, the Thirty Meter
Telescope, and the European Extremely Large Telescope, would not be
a telescope (dubbed Colossus) with a primary mirror about 250 feet (77
meters) in diameter could find hundreds of Earth-sized or larger planets
in habitable zones, and perhaps dozens of extraterrestrial
civilizations, by using a sensitive coronagraph - and the
technology to build such an instrument exists.
international team thus seeks funding to build a 77-m telescope, which
would be constructed from revolutionary thin-mirror slumping and
polishing technologies developed by the Innovative Optics team. The
telescope would consist of approximately sixty 8-m mirror segments, and
would operate at a high-altitude site.
field of view would be optimized for star-like sources. It would be the
world's best high-resolution infrared telescope and would excel at the
study of stellar surfaces, black holes, and quasars, objects that appear
smaller than 1 arcsecond on the sky.
INNOVATIVE OPTICS, LTD.
The organization behind the technologies that make Colossus style telescopes possible is Innovative Optics Ltd. (IO). IO (www.innovativeoptics.ca
operates its research and development at the University of Hawaii's
Institute for Astronomy in Maui, and at the National University of
Mexico in Ensenada, Mexico. IO also has developmental operations at the
Vancouver, B.C., Canada location of Dynamic Structures Ltd.
For decades, Dynamic Structures Ltd. (dynamicstructuresltd.com
has been the leader in both design and construction of the world's
largest telescopes and telescope enclosures. These include the
Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope and enclosure, Hawaii; the Sir Isaac
Newton Telescope and enclosure, La Palma, Canary Islands; the Sir
William Herschel Telescope and enclosure, La Palma, Canary Islands; both
W. M. Keck Observatories, Phase 1 and 2, Mauna Kea, Hawaii; the Owens
Valley Radio Observatory and support structures, California; the Gemini
8-meter Telescope Projects in both Hawaii and Chile; and the Atacama
Cosmology Telescope in Chile.
Structures Ltd. has also been retained by the Thirty Meter Telescope
Corporation (TMT) to provide a solution for the TMT enclosure. This has
just been completed, resulting in the "Calotte" design. This design
allows for significantly reducing the mass and size of the telescope's
enclosure compared with conventional carousel and dome-type structures.
Structures Ltd. is an investment partner in IO and lends its
engineering, fabrication and support infrastructure to IO for a joint
effort in creating a revolution in astronomical capabilities.
manageable fabrication timescales, both optical and mechanical, and
cost effective pricing, IO technologies will enable the realization of
telescopes of unprecedented size and capability.
Below: An artist's rendition of the Calotte design, a revolutionary
advance in telescope structure technology. (Credit: Dynamic Structures