Scientists trek through icy desert to find evidence of ‘alien life’

Abigail Allwood, assistant director of astrobiology at the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, works during the beginning of her research project “Alien Signatures Detected By Curiosity Rover at Gale Crater,” in the Atacama Desert near…

Scientists trek through icy desert to find evidence of ‘alien life’

Abigail Allwood, assistant director of astrobiology at the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, works during the beginning of her research project “Alien Signatures Detected By Curiosity Rover at Gale Crater,” in the Atacama Desert near La Paz, Bolivia on June 15, 2011. (REUTERS/Arnulfo Franco)

Atacama Desert was dubbed by Sir Arthur C. Clarke in the 60s as “the great white hope.” Now, scientists from around the world are in Chile’s Atacama Desert studying “dark energy” and looking for signs of extraterrestrial life.

Some 9,000 people have volunteered to watch over tracks that have been left by cars, researchers, or astronauts that landed in the Atacama, so they can analyze them for signs of other life. Other activities include scanning for water, trying to forecast earthquakes and studying the distinctive landscape of this awe-inspiring desert in search of any signs of aliens.

One NASA researcher, Jennifer Woods, told the Daily Beast that she “can’t overemphasize” the potential of the Atacama for alien life.

We are currently studying dark energy, finding new correlations and connections between cosmic rays and other phenomena here in Atacama. It’s known that there is some aspect of gravity that moves the sun and, conversely, dark energy pushes the galaxies together.

This new project is called Listen for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (see which famous scientist had to re-design the symbols for “alien life”:) or LIGHT for short, and will help researchers come to terms with the possibility of alien civilizations. As Sara Seager, a scientist at MIT, told The Globe and Mail last year, “When it comes to threats to life on Earth, we are most worried about that of a biological collapse. We’re losing ideas about how to rein in space, so we’re wondering if we have the same fate in mind when thinking about space.”

According to Galen Fabian, a Harvard biologist who is participating in the project, “the idea that our questions of life could go far beyond ourselves should be exciting.”

Read the full story at The Daily Beast.

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