Quirks & Quarks

New SETI Strategy: Looking for Lasers

Searching for alien civilizations shooting infrared communications lasers at us.
Long exposure nighttime image of the Lick observatory. Dr. Wright is visible as a shadow image in the bottom centre. (UCSD)
Listen8:58
Dr. Shelly Wright, an astronomer at the University of California, San Diego, thinks aliens are shooting high-powered lasers at us from across the galaxy. But they're doing it for peaceful purposes.

A new kind of SETI, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, started recently with first light on the NIROSETI, the Near Infrared OpticalSETI experiment. NIROSETI is surveying the skies for potential signals encoded in powerful infrared laser beams, which could cross thousands of light years of space to bring us news of alien civilizations.

Infrared SETI extends the range of optical SETI searches from radio by a factor of more than ten, so that we mayb be able to start a new long-distance relationship with other intelligent beings.

Related Links

- Dunlap Institute release
- UCSD release
Discovery News article