Searching for alien artifacts on the moon

Paul Davies, R. V. Wagner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

10 Scopus citations

Abstract

The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) has a low probability of success, but it would have a high impact if successful. Therefore it makes sense to widen the search as much as possible within the confines of the modest budget and limited resources currently available. To date, SETI has been dominated by the paradigm of seeking deliberately beamed radio messages. However, indirect evidence for extraterrestrial intelligence could come from any incontrovertible signatures of non-human technology. Existing searchable databases from astronomy, biology, earth and planetary sciences all offer low-cost opportunities to seek a footprint of extraterrestrial technology. In this paper we take as a case study one particular new and rapidly-expanding database: the photographic mapping of the Moon's surface by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) to 0.5 m resolution. Although there is only a tiny probability that alien technology would have left traces on the moon in the form of an artifact or surface modification of lunar features, this location has the virtue of being close, and of preserving traces for an immense duration. Systematic scrutiny of the LRO photographic images is being routinely conducted anyway for planetary science purposes, and this program could readily be expanded and outsourced at little extra cost to accommodate SETI goals, after the fashion of the SETI@home and Galaxy Zoo projects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)261-265
Number of pages5
JournalActa Astronautica
Volume89
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2013

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Keywords

  • Extraterrestrial technology
  • Lava tubes
  • Lunar reconnaissance orbiter
  • Nuclear waste
  • Regolith
  • SETI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering

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