Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Liquid water on worlds in Saturnian orbits and ‘RFI’ for pulsed optical SETI

Welcome! "Alien Life" tracks the latest discoveries and thoughts in the various elements of the famous Drake Equation.Here's today's news:
g Stars - Astronomers generally expect planets with liquid water to exist close to their parent star. But new research shows that some planets orbiting at the same distance as Saturn could have lakes and oceans. See article.
g Abodes - Astronomers think they have found a once-massive star that has been transformed into a small planet made of diamond in our Milky Way. The discovery sheds new light on the diversity of planets and how they can form. See article.
g Message - In the 40 year history of SETI, radio frequency interference (RFI) has proven to be the dominant background in microwave searches. As the SETI community broadens its electromagnetic scope and searches for optical beacons, it must characterize and identify backgrounds for pulsed optical SETI. We must ask the question: What is the “RFI” for pulsed optical SETI? This paper seeks to answer the question by examining the astrophysical, atmospheric, terrestrial, and instrumental sources of optical pulses of nanosecond timescale. Potential astrophysical/atmospheric sources include airglow and scattered zodiacal light, stellar photon pileup, muon events, and cosmic-ray induced Cerenkov flashes. Terrestrial sources, including lightning and laser communications, appear negligible. Instrumental backgrounds such as scintillation in detector optics and corona breakdown have been the dominant background in our experiments to date, and present significant design challenges for future optical SETI researchers. See article.

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