NASA might find alien pollution before we find aliens
NASA might find alien pollution before we find aliens. If intelligent alien civilisations exist in space, we may find signs of their existence before finding the aliens themselves.
A new study from NASA suggests that industrialised civilisations on distant worlds may be as bad as us at dealing with their pollution and that we may be able to spot their polluted atmospheres from afar.
If we can detect the presence of nitrogen oxides in a planet’s atmosphere, it may be a sign that they are burning fuels like oil or coal, just like we do.
If there’s one thing humans are good at, it’s messing up the planet. I mean, we’re the only species on the earth that can destroy it on a massive scale, and that’s exactly what we’re doing. Since we are the only “intelligent” life form known to us, it makes sense that, if intelligent alien civilisations exist, they could be as bad as we are at handling their pollution. NASA says it might end up being useful if we ever want to find aliens.
In a new study from NASA expected to be published in the Astrophysical Journal, researchers explain that by looking for planets with certain ingredients in their atmosphere, we might be able to filter planets with a higher probability of harbouring a life similar to our species. Simply put, if we can find a planet with a dirty atmosphere, something may be responsible for it being dirty, and something could be aliens.
The researchers focus on the idea that since humans burn fossil fuels and these fossil fuels fill the atmosphere with nitrogen dioxide gas, we should be looking for planets with a similar atmospheric composition. NO2 can be generated by natural processes, but the burning of fuels is a major factor as it floats above our heads. Would aliens face the same problem? We can’t say for sure, but the scientists involved in the study say it’s worth considering.
“On Earth, most of the nitrogen dioxide is emitted by human activity – from combustion processes such as vehicle emissions and fossil fuel power plants,” said NASA’s Ravi Kopparapu, lead author of the study, in a press release. “In the lower atmosphere (about 10 to 15 kilometers or about 6.2 to 9.3 miles), NO2 from human activities dominates over non-human sources. Therefore, the observation of NO2 on a habitable planet could potentially indicate the presence of an industrialized civilization.
As a planet passes in front of its star, from our perspective, the light shining through the atmosphere can offer clues to the gases present. We could use these signatures to search for planets with high levels of NO2 in their atmosphere, and in doing so, we could find intelligent alien life.
Of course, this idea rests entirely on the possibility that another planet fulfills a number of criteria which, to our knowledge, do not exist anywhere except Earth. The potential extraterrestrial world would need fuel which, when burned, produces NO2. It would also take an alien race advanced enough to figure out how to burn this fuel and, perhaps more importantly, these aliens cannot be too advanced, or they would likely have found a way to clean their atmosphere and stop burning. . the fuels that pollute it.
It’s an interesting idea, but at the moment we don’t have “a way to communicate with worlds outside of our solar system, let alone visit them, so even if we did find a planet crying out alien life. , that would be a before we could do anything