Munida of radio telescopes and computers, the NASA is prepared to hear signals of extraterrestrial civilizations. Boxes: origin of the Earth and the life. The flag of our planet and the posicionamento of the Church in relation to the existence of life outside the Earth.
It is going to begin of ampler search of intelligence outside the Earth. With radio telescopes and computers, to Basket it is prepared to hear signals of other planets.
By Martha San Juan France, with Kátia Zero, in Washington
Like it did regularly, there was five years, the operator of plantão in the astronômico observatory of the University of Ohio, in the United States, happened in that one morning of August of 1977 to pick up the tens of meters of paper printed by the computer connected to the radio telescope of 53 meters. It always had, in those papers, thousands of numbers - signal that the radio telescope I had caught only chaotic radioemissões produced by stars, you beat, quasares and too many natural celestial bodies. In that one morning of August, nevertheless, four letters stood out so clearly between thousand of numbers printed that the operator, excited, wrote down alongside: Wow!
HE IS the corresponding one, in English, to ours uau! and it fright of the operating one was just: in programação that feeds the connected computer the radio telescope, letters mean the reception of a coerente message, that never could be produced by the natural bodies of the Universe. It was exactly as we imagined an emission of intelligent origin, decided for SUPERINTERESSANTE the astronomer Robert Dixon, coordinator of the project of radioescuta of the University of Ohio. Immediately the radio telescope was placed to operate in the same frequency in which it had caught the signals decoded in letters, but the coerentes signals were not repeated.
Passed twelve years, Dixon, that continuous like a stoic priest, always míngua of budgets and volunteers, to touch its project of listening of the Universe, looks for it of intelligence outside the Earth, comments the incident that happened for history with the name of the great Wow. I am convinced that there are other civilizations in the Universe. Perhaps but never we know if the signals that we caught were of some of them. Like Robert Dixon, some hundreds of dispersed scientists by countries like the Soviet Union, England, Australia, France or Canada, besides the United States, naturally, try to try that the Earth is not the unique point of the Cosmo inhabited by intelligent life. From 1960 they esquadrinham the sky of the North hemisphere (only the next year trained Argentine astronomers in the United States they will begin to investigate in the South hemisphere). They were more than 450 thousand hours of listening, which corresponds to 18,770 days, or 51 years of work ininterrupto.
Often they appeared letters instead of numbers, is truth. In March, of 1967, Jocelyn astronomers Bell and Anthony Hewish, of the University of Cambridge, in England, measured cintilação of quasar - distant celestial body that emits poderosíssimas radiações - when they began to receive ritmados signals. The reaction, inevitable, was to imagine that they were extraterrestrial calling, and the source of radiação arrived to be baptized LGM, initials of little green men, reference to old woman scientific fiction histories that described the Martians like green homenzinhos. But not tardou that the joy esvaísse - it was discovered that radiações came from beating, a extreme-fast star of rotação that emits synchronous signals that so rigorously by them the most precious Earth clocks are guessed right.
The Bells and Hewish at least were with the glory of to have made the first observation of beating. Nor all had that luck. Eight years ago American astronomer Jill Tarter, who works for the NASA, caught strange signals during five days followed, in the radio telescope of Arecibo, Puerto Rico. We are excited, counts she. It seemed that some thing was occurring. For general deception, it was discovered that every day, to the 20 hours, when the star, for which the radio telescope was pointed, appeared in the sky, it changed the turn you watch of them of the observatory and the first providence del that left was to connect the transceiver of radio of its automobile in the citizen strip.
In the great Wow! , nevertheless, nothing of that occurred. During weeks and months, local radio receivers, stations, civil airplanes and military looked for, same artificial satellites - no human device was located like possible emitter of those fantastic letters. But nobody desanimou because of that. Patiently, the astronomers continued to hear the sky. In 1992 they will receive a powerful aid: that year, if not to undergo new cuts of budgets, the NASA will place in action in California, in Ames Research Center, San Jose, and the Jet Laboratory Propulsion, Pasadena, near Los Angeles, the most powerful program of celestial listening already dreamed.
In all those places, the scientists have the same hope: if they existed you are intelligent in other planets - and by everything what he knows himself the evolution of the Earth life there are reasons to suppose that she can have happened in other points of the Universe -, such beings will finish entering
contact. Way can to be of involuntary perhaps, as it comes to occur with the transmissions of TELES and Earth radar that follow incessantly for the space and, in thesis, a day will be caught by possible inhabitants. Or it can be by means of a deliberate message in a frequency able to be identified in any song of the Universe.
The date of 1992 to initiate project SETI (Search is Extraterrestrial Intelligence) of the NASA was not chosen to the chance. To its way, the American space agency tries to homenajear the navigator genovês Cristóvão Colombo, that, exact five hundred years before, abrió to way to the discovery of new civilizations when putting the feet in America. In its office in Ames Research Center, one of the directors of the program, astronomer Jill Tarter, likeable loira of 44 years, determined ways and soft speech, informed the SUPERINTERESSANTE that the NASA will spend 2.5 million dollars in the project - a insignificância near 600 million that the past year cost the launching of the space bus Discovery. Even so, that money will allow that during ten years more interstellar radio transmissions are examined del that the total studied by all the projects until this year.
Neither the astronomers of the NASA nor those of other institutions dedicated to the SETI have intention to send space probes to other planets; of the same form, they do not hope to receive visits of the space - in spite of everything what the hunters of Ufos say, the not identified voadores objects that, according to imaginação popular, are used to visiting the Earth and disappearing without leaving vestiges (SUPERINTERESSANTE nº 1, year 2). As it summarizes Jill Tarter, tests of the voadores disc existence do not exist.
If a personal communication with the extraterrestrial ones is an extremely remote possibility, raciocinam the scientists, nothing prevents that - if they exist - life signals send. The man at least learned 32 years ago, when he caught for the first time the signals of the Soviet satellite Sputnik, that great satellite dishes equipped with sensible receivers can detect artificial emissions of radio comings of the space - they have scored for the correct direction, in the correct hour and been in tune in the correct frequency. An astronomer of much luck, or dedicated to a patient and systematic work during years, could distinguish those signals. They would be a species of harmônica music in the middle to the dissonância of the noises of the space. In terms of fiction, they would be equivalent to the note sequence that the film director Steven Spielberg invented like message of extraterrestrial in the film the Direct contacts of the third Degree, of 1977.
Project SETI will multiply the opportunities enormously to hear signals in the space. To that, it will have a MCSA, abbreviation in English of Multi-channel Spectral Analisador, connection to a supercomputer. Connected to the antenna of a radio telescope like the one of Arecibo, in Puerto Rico, of 305 meters of diâmetro, the MCSA is able simultaneously to analyze the equivalent to 10 million space radio transmitters, identifying any transmission of coerentes signals automatically. So selective it is the system that, if outside a common radio, could, between the million tuned stations, to ignore for example those that they were transmitting rock and to register only classic music. With the technology available for five years, that would not be possible, explains Jill Tarter, of Ames. Now we can until choosing between several models of equipment.
The NASA is going to pay attention in the length of wave of 18 centimeters, corresponding to the strip of radio around 1,666 megahertz. This is the frequency emitted by the molecule of hidroxila (OH), formed of resulting oxygen and hidrogênio of decomposição of the water. Whenever one of those incontáveis molecules moves - and that happens to all moment in all the songs of the Universe -, a very small amount of energy caught thanks to the sensitivity of the radio telescopes releases, still to thousands of distance year-light.
According to the scientists, intelligent extraterrestrial beings, whose life depends on the existence of the water in its atmosphere and its organisms, would use that one frequency as registered tradename of a matter form that is to them familiar and that, presumivelmente, would be essential to the life also in other planets. Thus, if such ETs in fact exists, they would transmit messages in that strip, in the expectation of which other civilizations in listening would go sintonizá-la. With base in that hypothesis, the strip of frequency of the 1,666 megahertz is called by the American astronomers waterhole, something like water well, because extraterrestrial aglomerariam around her made animal wild around a well.
As generally that strip of frequency reasonably is cleared, it is used sporadically in the rastreamento of artificial satellites. But the next years she could be atulhada of signals, alerts Jill Tarter. Then it will be more difficult to hear messages of the space. Nevertheless, the great question is another one: like distinguishing between the noises caught by the radio telescopes some thing that can be interpreted without error like a message of the type alô, somebody there? , coming of some planet whose cosmic direction uncertain and is not known. For that reason, Jill Tarter compares its work to the one of a detective. We must be extremely cautious, comments she. If we caught some suspicious signal, that would first of all need to be confirmed by other radio telescopes of several parts of the world. Then we would only announce the discovery.
IT IS easy to imagine what would occur then - and to be mistaken. Then, in fact, besides foreseeable comoção world-wide, everything it would continue like before. Finally, to locate a message is a thing; decifrá-la is the different and completely very many other more trabalhosa. They can pass tens of years before the man understands what their supposed extraterrestrial interlocutors had to say. For that reason it is no wonder scientists like the American astronomer Frank Drake, one of the pioneers in the search of extraterrestrial, until suspect that they already made contact with enemy with the Earth, but the signals were not taken in consideration. For Drake, it is very possible that the had signals as alarms false in the past really were emitted by ETs. In April of 1960, for example, he examined the stars Epsilon Eridani and Tau Ceti, respectively to 11 and 12 Earth year-light. Drake denominated that experience of Ozma Project, in reference to the distant kingdom of Oz of the history of the American Frank Baum.
Once, Drake caught strange signals that today it creates have been produced in the own Earth. It marked it to the memory: During some time I was taken from an immense euphoria. He was how something very important was being occurred, something that would completely change the quality of life in the Earth. At least partly, his it beats was correct. Two years ago a group of Canadian astronomers discovered forts evidences that the star Epsílon Eridani at least owns a so great planet how much the colossal Jupiter.
In fact, good part of the problem of the planet existence outside the Solar System is not only in the equipment available in the Earth to also locate them but in the little visibility provided by the atmosphere. Thus, if they were in Epsílon Eridani, in a similar planet to ours, the most modern observation instruments made in the Earth, even so dali they were not able to register the Jupiter presence. For that reason, already the time of the Ozma Project was distrusted, but any evidence was not had, of which planets outside the Solar System existed. Now at least a planetary system in formation in the star was photographed Pictoris Beta, to 50 Earth year-light.
It works in the University of Harvard, Massachusetts, the greater continuous program search of extraterrestrial. The GOAL (abbreviation of Megachannel Extraterrestrial Assay) or Extraterrestrial Megacanal Analysis) is, financed by the Planetary Society, particular organization presided over by the well-known astronomer and scientific disseminator American Carl Sagan, who sights to support programs of operation in the space. The GOAL has the capacity simultaneously to accompany 8 million radio transmissions. Account Thomas McDonough, coordinator of the program next to the Planetary Society, that, when it was created, in 1985, was able to only accompany 131 thousand emissions. He was the film director Steven Spielberg who donated the money that lacked to extend the system, decides McDonough.
If an extraterrestrial civilization were trying to establish some type of communication, in which direction would follow the message? In that type of correspondence it is possible to be said that the adressee is the one who is looks for to it of the remetente - and he does not know where to find it. There is some tracks, but no safe indication. A way would be to quickly esquadrinhar all the sky in search of signals. Another one, more taken, would look for direct bonding with the promissores targets.
The NASA tries to use great radio telescopes, like already mentioned of Arecibo, to pass pente fine through near thousand similar stars with the Sun, catalogued by the Astronômica Union the International, and therefore candidates in power to own planetary systems. In the scale of the Universe that is less than a insignificância: the tenth part of 1 percent of the well-known space corresponds. Of their side, to complete the investigation, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory de Pasadena tries to use pente grosso, making a total sweeping of the sky with the same radio telescopes used normally in the rastreamento of the space probes. According to the astronomer Michael Klein, ordered of that part of the project, in seven years we will have data a complete stroll by the sky looks for to it of extraterrestrial signals.
Me nor the everything in that investigation it will be done in the United States. From the beginning of the year, Argentine astronomers are learning how GOAL works it, in the University of Harvard. They try to use the radio telescope of 40 meters of diâmetro, installed in Vila Elisa, to 40 kilometers of Buenos Aires, to tune similar stars with the Sun, whose radiação only can be caught in the South hemisphere. Brazil, nevertheless, is not going to use in that project the antenna of 13.7 meters of diâmetro of the radio-observatory of the INPE, in Atibaia, Sao Paulo.
Although it can be been in tune in the frequency of 1,666 megahertz, that one of the water well, the antenna of the INPE does not have the same sensitivity of the receivers majors. Even so already it served for the search of extraterrestrial signals. Two years ago, astronomer William Vilas-Good caught radio waveses comings of one of stars of the constellation of Fornax, to 20 Earth year-light. With the aid of the radar of the Aeronautics of the Barrier of Hell, in Birthday, the emissions were relayed in October last for the point of origen, so to speak received message.
As the radio signals travel at the speed of the light, only in 2008, that is, twenty years later, the possible inhabitants of a possible planet around a star of the constellation of Fornax will be receiving the signals relayed by the Brazilian astronomer. That, in fact, is one of ironies of the communication in cosmic scale. Tómese, for example, the case of the TELE, that the astronomers consider the most powerful Earth transmitter. It is going to take still some time until the inhabitants of a distant planet can attend the program the Earth News, transmitted day 26 of December last by the American network ABC especially for ETs, but that also could be seen in the United States.
At the moment, if they existed extraterrestrial, we say, in some planet in the orbit of the star Gamma Cephei, to 48 distance year-light, only in 1984 they would receive the first original signals of emitted TELES of the Earth in 1936. It was not a good program. It shows to Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler discursando in the opening of the Olympic Games of Berlin, three years before beginning the carnificina record of World War II.
It is not without rhyme or reason that the terrestrial astronomers prefer to hear to being heard. We do not try to transmit any message, informs Michael Klein, risonho and communicative head of the project of the NASA in Pasadena. I believe that he is more sensible to be careful. The best policy is to hear before beginning to shout in the forest. In spite of that attitude, the NASA did not resist to the idea to send a message to the space. As it is known, the space probes Pioneer 10 and 11, sent in 1971 and 1972, took in the luggage aluminum plates hard anodizing with the drawing of a naked man and a woman, a diagram of the Solar System with the relative distances of planets, besides information on the atom of hidrogênio (SUPERINTERESSANTE nº 17, year 3).
In 1977, the astronomers Carl Sagan and Frank Drake had the idea to place in the ships Voyager 1 and 2, that would be sent that one year, a dial-message with scientific information, musics and saudações in almost all the languages spoken in the Earth, besides animal sounds. Before that, to 16 of November of 1974, the first and still unique message was issued by the radio telescope of Arecibo radiofônica destined the extraterrestrial ones.
Translated, the message codified in binary system is in a figure with especificação of the chemical elements of the alive beings, the number of inhabitants of the planet and its appearance. The message warns where they are the Earth and the radio telescope that made the transmission. It was directed to the constellation of Hercules, perhaps for being of more colonised with stars of the Milky Route. If there were somebody to listening there, unfortunately she will receive the correspondence with a correct one takes - 25 thousand years, exactly.
Those difficulties show that it looks for is difficult. But to discourage we did not arrive it, comments chemistry Cyril Ponnamperuma, of the University of Maryland, in the United States, that assessorou the experiments of the Viking sounding, destined to identify organic molecules in the Mars planet. The Viking did not discover vestiges of life in the Martian ground, but nor for that reason the possibility that discarded it has existed in a past far distant. In that one talks about the SETI, it insists Ponnamperuma, we began recently time and the distances are immense. But I am optimistic.
IT IS good that it is. Then, besides those obstacles, there is the additional problem of the simultaneity - it is precise that the message received by the Earth comes from a planet whose inhabitants are more or less equally with us in a matter of technology, that not to speak in other dimensions of the civilization like the degree of social and political development, without which the dialogue would perhaps be impossible. And everything must happen in times compatíveis for us and them. According to the celebrated scientific fiction writer Isaac Asimov, that already is incentive sufficient to look for them. Then, as it observes of his side Hungarian astronomer Christophe Kotanyi, at the moment in the INPE, the eternal base of everything are indagações of the man - what we are, of where we came and for where we go.
In order to know more:
And the ship comes
(SUPER number 1, year 2)
The order is direct contact
(SUPER number 5, year 10)
But meaning that it is ET?
(SUPER number 10, year 10)
Boxes of the news article
Dear Earth symbol
A yellow Sun, an immense blue ball representing the Earth and smaller, white other, for the Moon. Thus it is the flag that the American astronomer Robert Dixon, of the University of Ohio, and one of the most respected investigators of extraterrestrial signals, used to symbolize the planet Earth. Dixon took advantage of the idea an agriculturist of the American State of Illinois, call James Cadle, who created the flag like emblem of an action that represented the humanity like one everything. Now it serves to inform that the Earth is in the hope of signals of other civilizations: so much in the offices of project SETI, the NASA can be found, in California, like in the Argentine Institute of Radio astronomy, near Buenos Aires, and still in the observatory of Zelenchukskaya, the Caucasus, Soviet Union, where ótico of the world is located to the greater telescope.
IT IS a noble end for a history that hardly began. There before the first mission manned to the Moon, in 1969, a group of American scientists proposed the hasteamento of a flag that represented all the humanity - to say that the scientific advances that they allowed to was of the space trips belonged to the entire world and not to that or to that one country. The idea was not accepts and the American flag is nailed until today in the Moon.
In the principle, God created the sky and the Earth, begins the Bible. More ahead it is written: I also said God: “We make the man our image, in agreement our similarity; it dominates on the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the domestic animal, all the Earth and the Earth”. Read exactly, those texts could induce the Christians to deny the hypothesis of intelligent life outside the Earth. But he is not that occurs. The existence of life in other planets would be one plus the test of the action of God, affirms reverendo the Silas Pereira Barbosa, shepherd of the Methodist Church in Brazil.
Of his side, catholic bishop Angelical Sândalo Bernardino is restrictive: The Church I never said that the life only exists in the Earth. But the Church does not say the opposite either. According to the theological Youngest child of Net Souza, of the Order of the Beneditinos, the Vatican it does not have official position on the subject. For him, the belief in God leaves from premissa of which all form of life is work hers. In those terms, the existence of intelligent life outside the Earth is an acceptable hypothesis, reasons. It will be precise to only analyze the character of the mediation to it extra-human forms of life.
Signs of life
Bilhões of Earth years has near 4.6 formed from condensação of interstellar gases and poeira. Fantastic electrical unloadings and the ultraviolet light of the Sun separated simple, rich molecules in hidrogênio, existing in the primitive atmosphere, fragments that recombinaram forming complex molecules more and more. From that primitive organic soup a molecule able arose to make copies of itself, giving beginning to the process of the life. Theoretically that process can be had repeated in other places, because all the Universe is formed by the same elements.
They were open pies organic nebula substances enormous. The space probe Giotto, that happened near the comet of Halley three years ago, stated to be he covered by a black layer, composed among others things of carbon, one of the essential elements to the life. There are still scientists who speculate with the hypothesis that the life has arrived at the Earth on board comets or meteors. Also it is possible that in other corners of the Universe similar molecules to nucleic proteins and acids that originated the Earth life they have combined forming different organisms.
In that astronomer Jill Tarter creates, of project SETI, the NASA. It supposes that in some place those organisms evolved until training intelligent beings a process that, according to the astronomer Carl Sagan, could happen million planets in the middle, only in the Milky Route. As they would be those beings? Those that we are looking for would have some type of hand to manusear equipment, a head and a tail to move, Jill imagines. Besides a nervous system enables that them to analyze the atmosphere and to communicate.