Kepler and Its Impact on the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence
NASA Ames Research Center (directions on ticket website)
Tuesday, November 5, 2013 from 7:00 PM to 8:30 PM (PST)
Mountain View, CA
Reserve free, required tickets: http://drakeonkepler.eventbrite.com/
Speaker's talk description:
NASA's Kepler mission has answered, finally, some of the prime questions to be answered when we consider the possible existence of extraterrestrial intelligent life and how we might find it. Now we know that almost all stars have planetary systems. Of special importance, the very numerous red dwarf stars have planetary systems, a situation which many astronomers have thought unlikely. I will discuss how the planets of red dwarfs and larger stars might be habitable, what hazards there might be to life, and how life, with its wonderful ability to evolve and adapt, might defend itself against these hazards. Many of the solutions to survival can be found already in the solar system.
About the speaker:
Frank Drake, who conducted the first modern SETI experiment in 1960, continues his life-long interest in the detection of extraterrestrial sentient life. He participates in an on-going search for optical signals of intelligent origin, carried out with colleagues from Lick Observatory and the University of California at Berkeley, using the 40-inch Nickel telescope at Lick.
Frank also continues to investigate radio telescope designs that optimize the chances of success for SETI (he proposed the plan used in the design of the Allen Telescope Array, based on some of his work of more than forty years ago.) He is also interested in the possibility that the very numerous red dwarf stars, stars that are much less bright than the Sun, might host habitable planets. In this regard, he has noted that the behavior of various objects in our own solar system – in particular the resonances between their rotation and orbital periods – when applied to some of the newly discovered extrasolar planets, strongly suggests that most planets orbiting red dwarfs will not keep one face towards their star, and thus are more likely to be habitable. If this is proven correct, it will increase by almost ten times the probable number of habitable planets in the Milky Way.
To learn more about the SETI Institute visit www.seti.org.
About the mission:
NASA's Kepler mission was designed to survey our region of the Milky Way galaxy to determine what fraction of stars have terrestrial-size planets in or near the habitable zone. Launched in March 2009, Kepler identified planets by watching for dips in starlight that occur as the planets transit, or pass in front of their stars, blocking the light. Through the first three years of data, Kepler has already discovered more than 3,500 planet candidates and confirmed 156 as planets.