Look for signs of mining in asteroid belts to find alien life, say scientists

April 5th, 2011 - 11:34 am ICT by ANI  

London, April 5 (ANI): For decades, scientists have been trying to establish contact with extra-terrestrials by sending radio signals deep into space.

Now, there’s a quicker way to reach them - just search for signs of mining in asteroid belts, reports the Daily Mail.

The claims were made by Duncan Forgan of the University of Edinburgh and Martin Elvis, of the Harvard Smithsonian Center For Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Mining should be easy to spot because it would create lots of dust due to its effect on local temperatures, or so the theory goes.

The researchers believe that aliens would also be more likely to mine large objects instead of smaller ones.

They suggested that as materials such as gold, platinum, iron and silicon are plentiful in asteroids, then intelligent alien life would be likelier to exploit this.

Any extra solar mining would produce three effects that should, in theory, be detected from Earth.

Firstly, scientists are aware of the specific ratio of elements found in common debris belts. Therefore, using spectroscopy, they should be able to spot asteroid belts where this ratio is different.

Secondly, aliens would be more likely to mine large asteroid belts due to their having more elements and minerals for harvesting.

Lastly, any large-scale mining would result in a great deal of dust that would take heat from the nearby star and generate an identifiable thermal signature.

Forgan and Elvis claim that spotting all of these telltale signs raises the likelihood of pinpointing extra-terrestrials.

They, however, admitted that all three also occur naturally and that their recommendations only increase the chance of finding alien life.

“We find that individual observational signatures of asteroid mining can be explained by natural phenomena, and as such they cannot provide conclusive detections of extra-terrestrial intelligences,” they wrote in a paper published recently.

“They could provide a means of identifying unusual candidate systems for further study using other techniques,” they added. (ANI)

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