The SETI Institute in the news – Media overview. February 1 to 15, 2022
All quiet at the galactic center
A team of astronomers pointed the Murchison Widefield Array at the center of the Milky Way for seven hours, trying to detect signs of civilization, but no signal was detected. 144 known exoplanets were within the scope of this search.
“We are looking for lasting signals or technological leaks from the daily life of the inhabitants,” says Chenoa Tremblaya researcher with the SETI Institute in California.
Dr. Sheikh is one of only 10 Ph.D.s from SETI, Radio Techno-Signatures and Penn State Pulsars, and won an NSF fellowship for postdoctoral work. While at UC Berkeley, she was the lead investigator for the intriguing Breakthrough Listen Candidate 1 (BLC1), which turned out to be the electronics oscillators on the telescope. Now a SETI Institute scientist, she continues her scientific work as well as educational projects in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Appearing at regular intervals, [the signals] probably came from oscillators commonly used in various electronic devices. The BLC1 signal, she explains, “happens to be ‘weird’ in the right way to fool our filters”. Despite this, their analysis allowed them to develop a large amount of code to characterize the signals quickly and efficiently. By helping to improve search algorithms, their work was actually a good test for the arrival of the next tantalizing signal, she adds.
On March 4, 2022, a piece of terrestrial trash will cause the first known accidental lunar crash. When the object’s trajectory was first determined, it was thought to have come from a Space-X rocket, but is now believed to have come from a Chinese rock return mission.
[Franck] markets also had something to say about how dangerous objects like 2015-007B will be once NASA launches its Artemis missions to the Moon in the mid-2020s and beyond. “Remember that in a short time human beings will be landing and living on the Moon, a body with no atmosphere to protect them,” he said. “We must prioritize their safety and the safety of equipment on the lunar surface, ensuring that no man-made space objects can harm them.”
Now in its 7th year, FDL has announced its research categories for the coming year, including Lunar Exploration, Space Medicine, Astrobiology, Disaster Response, Energy Futures, and more.
“FDL is a shining example of how public/private partnerships and interdisciplinary skills can combine to achieve extraordinary results,” said Bill Diamond, CEO, SETI Institute. “But these results also stem from the efforts of extraordinary researchers and mentors. We are excited to launch our most ambitious FDL sprint this year and invite you to join us!”
Join hosts Seth Shostak and Molly Bentley each week as they explore emerging science and technology research.
Skeptical Verification: Do Your Own Research
Scientists are increasingly seeing their expertise challenged by non-experts who claim to have done their own “research”. Whether advocating ivermectin to treat Covid, insisting climate change is a hoax, or claiming the Earth is flat, skeptics are now being dismissed by being told to “do your own research!” But is a wiki page proof? What about a YouTube video? What happens to our quest for truth along the way? Plus, a science historian goes to a Flat Earth convention to talk reason.
With guests Yvette Johnson-Walker, Nathan Ballantyne, David Dunning, Lee McIntyre
Iron, Coal, Wood
You may not remember the days of the first coal stoves. They changed domestic life, and it changed society. We take you back to that time, and millennia before, when iron was first smelted, and even earlier, when ax handles were first made from wood, as we explore how three essential materials have profoundly transformed society.
We were once excited about the promise of coal to provide cheap energy and how iron would lead to indestructible bridges, ships and buildings. But they have also caused unintended problems: destruction of forests, greenhouse gases and corrosion. Have we foreseen where the use of wood, coal and iron would lead? What lessons do they offer for our future?
With guests Jonathan Waldman, Ruth Goodman, Roland Ennos
After overall science episodes can be found at http://bigpicturescience.org/episodes.
The SETI Institute hosts weekly interviews with leading scientists on social media. Recent SETI Live episodes include:
Huge gas giant discovered around TOI-2180
A team of professional astronomers and citizen scientists has discovered a giant exoplanet orbiting the G5-type star TOI-2180, 381 light-years away. With a mass of 2.755 Jupiters, it takes 260.8 days to complete an orbit and is 0.828 AU from its star. Citizen scientists have spotted TOI-2180b’s unique transit event in data from NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS). Using Lick Observatory’s Automated Planet Finder Telescope, professional astronomers observed the planet’s gravitational tug on the star, allowing them to calculate TOI-2180b’s mass and estimate a range possibilities for its orbit. Hoping to observe a second transit event, they organized a campaign using fourteen different telescopes on three continents in the northern hemisphere. Over eleven days in August 2021, the effort resulted in 20,000 images of the star TOI-2180, although none of them detected the planet with confidence.
SETI Institute senior astronomer Franck Marchis will speak with citizen astronomer Daryll LaCourse and Paul Dalba, lead author of the project as well as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, Riverside and affiliated with the SETI Institute, about this astonishing discovery, the result of a collaboration between professional and amateur astronomers.
5,000 candidate exoplanets and counting!
NASA’s TESS mission has passed the milestone of 5,000 candidate exoplanets or TOI (TESS Object of Interest). The TESS catalog has grown steadily since the mission began in 2018, and the batch of TOI bringing the catalog to over 5,000 comes primarily from the Faint Star Search led by MIT postdoc Michelle Kunimoto. Now in its extended mission, TESS is observing the northern hemisphere and the ecliptic plane, including regions of the sky previously observed by the Kepler and K2 missions, so we can expect more discoveries through 2025. To discuss This achievement, SETI Institute Senior Astronomer Franck Marchis is joined by Dr. Kunimoto, TESS postdoctoral associate at MIT Kavli Institute. Dr. Kunimoto focuses his work on the detection of transiting exoplanets and the statistical determination of exoplanet demography. She’ll tell us how astronomers around the world will study each of these TOIs to confirm whether they’re real planets, and what we can expect from this complicated task.
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