NUI Galway Researcher Dr Evan Keane has been allocated essential funding to explore how the next generation Very Large Array (ngLVA) radio telescope can be developed to identify signs of extra-terrestrial life.
The telescope, in its design stage, is expected to be installed in varying locations spanning 8,000 kilometres to maximise its abilities in the search for technological signatures of extra-terrestrial life.
Radio telescopes are renowned for their suitability in determining technological signatures of life from exoplanets.
The radio waves transmitted can encode large amounts of information.
Research is being carried out to investigate the logistical aspects of this program including exploration of assorted frequency bands, astrological algorithms and distance between satellite dishes.
Speaking on this new funding, coming from an ngVLA Community Study run by the United States’ National Radio Astronomy Observatory, Dr Keane said: “I am very excited to be investigating how to tackle perhaps the most difficult challenge there is in science. These searches for techno signatures are also now happening on Irish soil too.
“With my collaborators in Berkeley, and across Ireland, we have been enabling a techno signature search system on the Irish Low Frequency Array station in Birr, Co. Offaly. This is a great opportunity for upcoming Irish scientists to tackle these questions at home.”
Before joining the NUI Galway staff in January, Dr Keane was an established Project Scientist for the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project in the UK.
He was also a Dynamic Theme Scientist for CAASTRO and a Senior Postdoctoral Fellow within the Centre for Astrophysics & Supercomputing at the Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne.
Since arriving at NUI Galway, Dr Keane has established a joint summer internship programme with Berkeley, which will hire two research interns to work in Birr with the telescope this summer.