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An 'artificial brain' can hear 'alien signals' by 2030

An ‘artificial brain’ can hear ‘alien signals’ by 2030

A massive radio telescope is set to begin scanning the night sky for signals sent by aliens by the end of the decade. The Square Kilometer Array, or SKA, will feature a staggering number of 197 dishes and 130,000 antennas located across South Africa and Australia. This telescope is designed to capture Radio signals, both natural and exotic, that are too faint to be detected by current telescopes.

Construction began last year, and before it opens in 2025, researchers are now developing the software needed to power it. The artificial brain will help parts of the network to communicate across continents and represents a huge computing challenge, Dr Chris Pearson, head of the astronomy group at RAL Space, told the BBC.

He added, “We’re talking about something like 600 petabytes (600 million gigabytes) per year of data coming from SKA, to be delivered to astronomers all over the world. So it’s a scaling problem, it’s a processing problem, it’s a data transmission problem.” SKA is a £1.7 billion international project that has been in the works for 30 years and instead of a single telescope, it is a collection of dishes and antennas that will together collect radio waves from the darkest recesses in space.

When the telescope becomes operational in 2030, it will allow scientists to study the early universe in unprecedented detail. It will be able to collect low-frequency radio waves dating back nearly 14 billion years since the birth of the universe. Moreover, scientists will use the telescope to try to detect extremely weak radio signals outside the planet, if they exist at all, and astrobiologists will use technology to search for amino acids , which are the building blocks of life, on distant planets and asteroids by identifying their own signatures at specific frequencies.

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SKA’s different dishes and antennas will be connected to each other so they can share vast amounts of data. Its operations begin this decade, including the recently launched James Webb Space Telescope and the European Very Large Telescope (E-ELT).

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