Ambitious search for aliens begins

Students in the US are starting an ambitious alien hunt, but the search is based on a lot of assumptions.

The Trillion Planet Survey has been set up by a group of students wanting to scan the Andromeda galaxy and Milky Way for beams of light potentially produced by alien civilisations, reports

Lead researcher Andrew Stewart, a student at Emory University in Atlanta, said they are working off the assumption that alien life exists.

"We are assuming there is a civilisation out there of similar or higher class than ours trying to broadcast their presence using an optical beam," said Mr Stewart.

But the group are also working off the assumption us Earthlings could actually detect the beam, and that it would be "left on long enough for the light to be detected".

The technology being used includes an image-analysis system and global network of small robotically controlled telescopes.

Each telescope captures roughly 3 percent of Andromeda, with each image set to be combined to create a picture of the entire galaxy. This image will act as a control picture, to compare any future photos to.

Any differences between the photos of the galaxy may potentially result from signals produced by aliens, although the researchers also note they could come from natural sources.


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