What is PANOSETI?
The system has been in development since 2018 and currently consists of two prototype telescopes stationed at the Lick Observatory near San Jose, California. The goal is to collect raw data that will allow a team of researchers, led by astronomer and physicist Sheely Wright, to test the array. The name PANOSETI stands for Pulsed All-sky Near-infrared Optical SETI.
The project is a collaboration between several world-famous institutions such as UC San Diego, Harvard University, UC Berkeley, and the University of California Observatories. Their goal is to build a specialized optical SETI observatory capable of scanning the entire observable sky. Apart from helping with the search for aliens, PANOSETI will also enable scientists to observe a wide range of natural phenomena such as fast radio bursts, outer-galaxy energy pulses, pulsars, evaporating primordial black holes, and more.
How Aliens Will Be Detected?
Unlike the traditional radio SETI, which is used to detect radio leaks and deliberate radio signals, this optical system will focus on locating powerful flashes of lights, as well as quick bursts of infrared radiation. Since laser light doesn’t degrade over distance as radio waves do, scientists believe that looking for it will increase the chances of humans finding their extraterrestrial neighbors.
The ultimate goal of the system is to answer the eternal question – are we alone in the universe? While there are no guarantees for first-contact with aliens, the construction of the optical SETI will surely allow us to learn more about space and other celestial bodies.