Humans have a preconceived notion that aliens are way more technically sound in our comparison. However, what if we find less advanced alien civilizations than humans? Here we have raised a question that is generally not discussed in formal scientific conferences.
Will We Ever Find An Earth-Like Planet?
Astronomers are yet to uncover a real Earth twin, which is an Earth-sized planet orbiting a sunlike yellow star at an Earthlike distance, despite all the great recent discoveries of planets surrounding other stars. Kepler 452b is the planet that has been the closest discovery made so far.
It is approximately five times as massive as Earth and most likely falls under the category of super-Earth planets. Possibly habitable; though not Earthlike. This is even more true with the recently found Earth-sized planets around Trappist-1. These are incredibly fascinating worlds to investigate, and it’s feasible that life could exist in some of them.
The Trappist-1 planets, however, revolve around a weak red-dwarf star, which exposes them to intense radiation and likely cause them to be tidally locked, with one hemisphere always facing the star. There must be closer analogs, but they are difficult to locate.
The Kepler space telescope, operated by NASA, finds planets by observing how they block out a little portion of their star’s light when they transit or move in front of us. However, a planet on a one-year orbit like ours only sees a very brief shadow once a year.
There are at least three things to be sure the planet is real and not just a random star flickering. That is why researchers must therefore spend several years watching a wide variety of stars. Even then, the only planets you’ll find are those that just so happen to have their star and our planet perfectly aligned.
How To Determine Whether The Planet Is Truly Inhabitable? Less Advanced Alien Civilization?
The most popular technique at the moment is to observe light passing through the planet’s atmosphere as it passes in front of the star. However, this is a very challenging task even for enormous planets. If we even had a true Earth twin to analyze, we now lack the capability to perform this task.
Another strategy is to look straight for nearby planets resembling Earth and study their brightness after finding them. Though there is a possibility that we might have an Earth-like planet in the universe, on the order of a billion times fainter, scientists will require an extremely powerful telescope and a highly effective technique to filter out the star’s brightness to do so.
In order to achieve this, astronomers have come up with some ingenious solutions, like the use of a starshade, an external light-blocking object that flies in front of a space telescope, or a coronagraph, an interior component of the telescope itself.
The coronagraph idea will be tested by the future WFIRST telescope, although it won’t be sensitive enough to see other Earths. It will require better telescopes, which probably won’t be created until the 2030s at the earliest.
How To Determine That An Intelligent Life Or Less Advanced Alien Civilization Exists on A Planet?
Even if scientists and researchers advance through tracing a planet that has a possibility of life, it will be extremely difficult to demonstrate the existence of any type of life. The atmospheres of the planets will be examined by astronomers in search of “biosignatures”—unusual, unbalanced chemical compositions similar to those associated with life on Earth such as free oxygen plus methane.
Aliens with technology from the 16th century won’t be beaming us any radio messages, but SETI searches look for potential signals provided by extraterrestrial civilizations. In that case, the researchers will be required to look for them through covert methods.
For instance, although that still wouldn’t provide clear evidence, there is a possibility of heavy-metal signatures connected to simple industries like smelting. Such discoveries shall undoubtedly be a lot more compelling. Some really speculative sorts of lensing telescopes might be powerful enough to observe signs of towns or geometric clearing of forests.
By the way, even while intelligent alien life is rather common, it is highly unlikely to encounter an alien civilization that is less advanced compared to our own. In our galaxy, planets and stars have most likely been created for more than 10 billion years.
It may be typical for intelligent life to develop after 4 billion years, or it may not. However, life could have started billions of years earlier or later than life on Earth on other planets. The odds of an alien civilization being within 500 years of our stage of development, out of that broad range, are millions to one — and that’s assuming that other planets follow our path, which is a massive leap of faith. But let’s continue to examine the query.
What If We Find A Less Advanced Alien Civilization On Some Other Planet?
There are no existing means of communication that allow us to connect with extraterrestrials. There is also no realistic method for humans to get there unless physicists make a completely unexpected new discovery. Miniature interstellar probes can be launched to explore the planet and gather more information about its inhabitants.
The kind of technology required to carry out such an endeavor is being investigated by a project by the name of Breakthrough Starshot. Interestingly, the extraterrestrials shall not be aware that they were being observed because such probes will be so little and quick.
Making the best-case assumption because, well, why not? The closest sun-like star, Alpha Centauri A, may have an Earth-sized planet orbiting it sometime in the coming decade. Alternatively, the red dwarf Proxima Centauri star may have a planet of a similar size. Imagine, the scientists discover conceivable biosignatures on one of these close exoplanets in the 2030s.
Now let’s consider the planet in the year 2050 and discover logical signs of an advanced civilization. What a breakthrough that would be! Then, the scientists can send out interstellar probes that land in the 2090s. If all of it works out, by 2100, we could be certain that there is life on the planet and that it is a sophisticated, semi-industrial civilization.
Should Humans Try To Contact Extraterrestrials?
Given technological advancement, humans are able to send coded communications throughout the entire world using interstellar probes. Perhaps in response, the researchers and scientists might start massive geometric fires that we can see from space.
With so much time on our hands, we may carefully consider whether initiating contact is a good idea and, if so, how to go about it. Remember, this is for the absolute nearest star, so it would take around 9 years for each message to be sent and received.
Imagine that we discovered a civilization on Kepler 452b. The distance is 1,400 lightyears. At least 2,800 years would pass between each message’s round-trip. It would take at least 7,000 years for a Starshot-style probe to arrive there.
What if humans discover some sort of faster-than-light technology now believed to be technically impossible, but we’re guessing here) and travel to this quasi-technological extraterrestrial culture, à la Star Trek? How will we respond to it?
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