Project SENTINEL

Project SENTINEL

Project Lead: Kelvin F. Long
Division: Culture & Philosophy
Group: SETI

Description: The SEarch for Non-Terrestrial Intelligence Near Earth Light-years (SENTINEL). The purpose of this group is to use scientifically rigorous methods and techniques to address the possibility, and thereby purpose, for extraterrestrial intelligence, or associated artifacts, being within light years distance of Earth as a means to creating pathways to solving the Fermi Paradox. This is to be facilitated through meetings, discussions, publications or other activities. Throughout the period 1974 to 1991 the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society (JBIS) published the now famous red cover issues. These dealt with Interstellar Studies and the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI). These two subjects have traditionally been closely linked, and not surprisingly. If you send a robotic probe to another star system there is an opportunity to discover life, and this could even be intelligent life. But if we can send probes to other star systems then it follows that others could send probes here too, assuming they existed in the first place. Over the 4.5 billion year history of our solar system forming, this has allowed for ample time for the technology of another intelligent race to pass through our solar system, either biologically based or even artificial intelligence. Perhaps in doing so they may have detected the murmurings of life forming on the planet Earth. On the off-chance that life one day emerged to full intelligence, perhaps they would want to be notified.  Thus we come to the concept of a “Sentinel”, so depicted in the 1951 short story of the same name written by Arthur C. Clarke. It was also the basis of the later movie “2001: A Space Odyssey”, directed by Stanley Kubrick and written by Clarke

Is the idea of extraterrestrial Sentinels credible or just the basis of good science fiction stories? The main focus of this project will be to characterise theoretically the emission spectrum of specific technologies that are to be expected from an intelligent civilization, be it through starship technology or through planetary industrialisation. The project will also consider the various issues surrounding the Search for Extraterrestrial Artifacts, where it is appropriate. We aim to use this group as a forum for working with other organizations such as the SETI Institute and the SETI League, to compliment, and support, the excellent research that these organizations are already undertaking.

Some of the key papers that this project will rely upon include:

• Robert Zubrin, “Detection of Extraterrestrial Civilizations via the Spectral Signature of Advanced Interstellar Spacecraft,” Progress in the Search for Extraterrestrial Life, ASP Conference Series Vol. 74 (1995)

• Matloff and Pazmino, “Detecting Interstellar Migrations,” in Astronomical and Biochemical Origins and the Search for Life in the Universe, ed. C. B. Cosmovici, S. Bowyer and D. Werthimer, Editrici Compositori, Bologna, Italy (1997), pp. 757-759.

• Robert Freitas, “The Search for Extraterrestrial Artifacts (SETA)” and a subsequent 1985 Acta Astronautica paper of the same name. • D. R. J. Viewing, C. Horswell, E. W. Palmer, “Detection of Starships,” JBIS, 30, 99-104 (1977).

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