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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 2012 > Apr > Apr 20

Finding ET May Require Giant Robotic Leap

From: Ray Dickenson <r.dickenson.nul>
Date: Thu, 19 Apr 2012 17:57:50 +0100
Archived: Fri, 20 Apr 2012 11:39:05 -0400
Subject: Finding ET May Require Giant Robotic Leap


Source: ScienceDaily


Apr. 18, 2012

Finding ET May Require Giant Robotic Leap

Autonomous, self-replicating robots - exobots - are the way to
explore the universe, find and identify extraterrestrial life
and perhaps clean up space debris in the process, according to a
Penn State engineer, who notes that the search for
extraterrestrial intelligence - SETI - is in its 50th year.

"The basic premise is that human space exploration must be
highly efficient, cost effective, and autonomous as placing
humans beyond low Earth orbit is fraught with political
economic, and technical difficulties," John D. Mathews,
professor of electrical engineering, reported in the current
issue of the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society.

If aliens are out there, they have the same problems we do, they
need to conserve resources, are limited by the laws of physics
and they may not even be eager to meet us, according to Mathews.

He suggests that "only by developing and deploying self-
replicating robotic spacecraft - and the incumbent
communications systems - can the human race efficiently explore
even the asteroid belt, let alone the vast reaches of the Kuiper
Belt, Oort Cloud, and beyond."

Mathews assumes that any extraterrestrial would need to follow a
similar path to the stars, sending robots rather than living
beings, which would explain why SETI has not succeeded to date.

"If they are like us, they too have a dysfunctional government
and all the other problems plaguing us," said Mathews. "They
won't want to spend a lot to communicate with us."

It is extremely difficult to broadcast into the galaxy and
requires vast resources. Radio signals need to emanate in every
direction to fill the sky, and the energy requirement to
broadcast throughout space is quite high.

"Current infrared lasers can communicate across our solar
system," said Mathews. "The problem in terms of SETI is they are
highly directed beams."

Point-to-point communications using infrared signaling requires
less power, but the signals are extremely directional. If extra-
terrestrial beings are using laser-generated infrared signaling,
we would never notice their signals because they are so tightly
targeted to their destinations.

Mathews suggests that if human exploration is not possible,
robots could go where many people do not want to go and do what
many do not want to do, not only on Earth, but also in space.

To minimize the cost, he suggests that the initial robots be
manufactured on the moon to take advantage of the resources and
the one-sixth gravity. He notes that we have the technology to
create these exobots now, except for a compact power source. To
create a network of autonomous robots capable of passing
information to each other and back to earth, the vehicles must
be able to identify their exact location and determine the time.
With these two bits of knowledge, they should be able to
determine where all the other robots near them are and target
them with an infrared laser beam carrying data.

"The expensive part of launching anything is escaping the
surface of Earth and its gravity well," said Mathews. "It would
also be easier to target the space debris in near Earth orbit
and in geosynchronous orbit and even recycle it."

Initially, the exobots would serve two purposes: clear existing
debris and monitor the more than 1,200 near-Earth asteroids that
are particularly hazardous in that they closely approach Earth
during their orbits.

"As a first step, we really should launch robot vehicles to
learn something about these asteroids and to place beacons on
them for identification and tracking," said Mathews.

Ultimately, the network of exobots - self-replicating,
autonomous and capable of learning - will spread through the
solar system and into the galaxy, using the resources they find
there to continue their mission. Communicating with infrared
lasers is communicating at the speed of light, which is the
fastest we can hope to achieve.

"Our assumption in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence
is that ET wants to be found," said Mathews. "But who has energy
resources to spend trying to wave their metaphorical hand across
the galaxy?"

He said it is more likely that one of our exobots will intercept
a signal from one of theirs if we are to make first contact.
Issue of Journal of the British Interplanetary Society:

Story Source:

Penn State (2012, April 18). Finding ET may require giant robotic
leap. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 19, 2012



Ray D

BTW - fully agree that "placing humans beyond low Earth orbit is
fraught with... difficulties", and, watching contemporary SciFi,
am amazed by the vast, intricate, metallic and highly vulnerable
'space-ships' the film-makers apparently believe in. The safest
space-transport has got to be spherical, has got to be protected
by force-fields (and propelled by them), and has got got to be
non-metallic, probably gelatinous in nature. Which is what we
seem to see in the (ignored by media and 'blacked' by NASA) films
down-loaded (from NASA) by Martyn Stubbs - maybe see:


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