Not too long ago scientists were clicking their heels about the possibility of finding Earth 2 in the near future. Recently, SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) astronomer Seth Shostak gave new hope to believers when he told a space exploration panel that the ongoing research of star systems may allow researchers to discover extraterrestrial electromagnetic signals.
“I think we’ll find E.T. within two dozen years using these sorts of experiments,” Shostak said on Thursday during a talk at the 2014 NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) symposium at Stanford University. “Instead of looking at a few thousand star systems, which is the tally so far, we will have looked at maybe a million star systems [24 years from now]”, Shostak said. “A million might be the right number to find something… The bottom line is, like one in five stars has at least one planet where life might spring up,” Shostak continued. “That’s a fantastically large percentage. That means in our galaxy, there’s on the order of tens of billions of Earth-like worlds.”
With the help of the planet-hunting Kepler telescope, Shostak & team have gathered enough data to assume that some of these worlds are capable of hosting intelligent life — beings that have developed the capability to send electromagnetic signals out into the cosmos, as humans do every second of every day, Space.com reports. To that end, scientists are aiming big radio dishes toward the cosmos in the hopes of making contact.
It’s an exciting time for those who believe we’re not alone in the universe. The only roadblock SETI faces at this juncture is the issue of funding. For example, Space.com states that the “Allen Telescope Array in northern California, which the SETI Institute uses, was designed to consist of 350 radio dishes, but just 42 have been built to date. And the array had to go into hibernation in April 2011 due to budget shortfalls. (It came back online in December of that year after more funding was found.)”
Like many vital and fascinating endeavors of our time, the mismanagement of wealth appears to be the culprit. In essence, Shostak admits, the 25-year timeline entirely “depends on SETI funding, which is in dire straits right now.”