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SETI searches for extraterrestrial life and scientists probe beneath planetary surfaces

SETI Radio array
Alex Savello
/
NRAO
The Very Large Array (VLA) is a collection of 27 radio antennas located at the NRAO site in Socorro, New Mexico. Each antenna in the array measures 25 meters (82 feet) in diameter and weighs about 230 tons.

Are we alone in the universe?

Scientists have been trying to answer this simple question with a complex answer for generations.

For almost forty years, the SETI Institute has been pushing the boundaries of human knowledge in exploring life beyond our planet and the origins of life here on Earth. Recently, it has received a $200 million donation that will help propel those efforts.

SETI Institute’s Bill Diamond said the donation will help better answer that age-old question and he believes they are getting closer to discovery.

"Lots of new discoveries are happening all the time, new tools and techniques are being deployed," Diamond said. "So yes, I think we're getting ever closer. What I like to to say is that statistically speaking, I think the chances that we're alone in the universe are basically zero."

You shouldn’t judge a planet by its cover,

Scientists are trying to uncover secrets hidden deep inside planets.

Planetary scientist and author Sabine Stanley said by studying planet cores, we can look further into our galaxy for habitable planets and explanations to why different planets have different surfaces.

In this image, Europa is seen in a cutaway view through two cycles of its 3.5 day orbit about the giant planet Jupiter. Like Earth, Europa is thought to have an iron core, a rocky mantle and a surface ocean of salty water.
JPL
/
NASA
In this image, Europa is seen in a cutaway view through two cycles of its 3.5 day orbit about the giant planet Jupiter. Like Earth, Europa is thought to have an iron core, a rocky mantle and a surface ocean of salty water.

Stanley’s new book What’s Hidden Inside Planets? tackles some of the mysteries beneath a planet's surface, including Earth.

Earth is habitable for humans because of its makeup and interior. But to study the core of a planet, scientists have to study it when its shaking.

“Whenever you have an impact on the surface of a planet, that creates quakes, that goes through waves that go through the planet," Stanley said. "So, for example, on Earth, we have earthquakes that can create waves that go through the Earth, those waves travel at different speeds, depending on the material they're in. And then we record them with seismometers around the surface of the planet. To figure out what goes on inside.”

Marian is a multimedia journalist at WMFE 90.7 working as a reporter and producer for the 'Are We There Yet?' space podcast.
Brendan Byrne is WMFE's Assistant News Director, managing the day-to-day operations of the WMFE newsroom, editing daily news stories, and managing WMFE's internship program.

Byrne also hosts WMFE's weekly radio show and podcast "Are We There Yet?" which explores human space exploration.
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