"Are We Alone?" is a question that has been posed for millenia, but only in the past few decades has astronomical technology matured to the state that the detection of extraterrestrial life is feasible. Moreover, in the past two decades, the question of the existence of extrasolar planets and planetary systems has changed from a matter of speculation to a topic warranting statistical studies and analyses. Looking to the future, telescopes are being designed explicitly to detect signatures of biological activity ("biosignatures") on other worlds, and current and future telescopes will be generating data sets of significant volumes. Complementing the search for biosignatures is a search for signatures of technological activity ("technosignatures"), which would address the question of not only extraterrestrial life but also extraterrestrial complex life. In this year of the Astro2020 Decadal Survey, I will review the history of technosignatures, the current state of the field, and potential trajectories over the next decade. In doing so, I will draw on a recent W. M. Keck Institute for Space Studies workshop that focused on new possibilities for the field. The author acknowledges ideas and advice from the participants in the"Data-Driven Approaches to Searches for the Technosignatures of Advanced Civilizations" workshop organized by the W. M. Keck Institute for Space Studies. Part of this research was carried out at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
American Astronomical Society Meeting Abstracts #235
- Pub Date:
- January 2020