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SETI To Scour the Moon For Alien Footprints?

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the just-an-old-hierarchy-monitor-station-and-some-robots dept.

Moon 167

astroengine writes "Although we have an entire universe to seek out the proverbial alien needle in a haystack, perhaps looking in our own backyard would be a good place to start. That's the conclusions reached by Paul Davies and Robert Wagner of Arizona State University, anyway. The pair have published a paper in the journal Acta Astronautica detailing how SETI could carry out a low-cost crowdsourcing program (a la SETI@Home) to scour the lunar surface for alien artifacts, thereby gaining clues on whether intelligent aliens are out there and whether they've paid the solar system a visit in the moon's recent history."

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Oh For Fuck's Sake (4, Insightful)

hondo77 (324058) | more than 2 years ago | (#38508030)

<facepalm/>

first (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38508038)

Look into the oceans then aim for the moon

Re:first (4, Insightful)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 2 years ago | (#38508194)

Oceans destroy artifacts on the scale of years. One year in the Atlantic is worth a billion years on the moon.

Re:first (5, Informative)

viperidaenz (2515578) | more than 2 years ago | (#38508246)

Its probably easier to get to the moon than the bottom of the deepest oceans. An unmanned space craft doesn't have to deal with much pressure in space. the difference between space and earth sea level is only about 14psi. The bottom of the ocean has pressures over 15,000 psi

Besides, with plate techtonics, the ocean floor isn't really that old. Of the 4.5 billion years earth has been around, the atlantic ocean was only around for a few hundred million years.
The moon however, is pretty much a solid rock, there no known movements of its surface
There has also been life down in the oceans for over 3 billion years leaving its own traces

Re:first (5, Informative)

twotacocombo (1529393) | more than 2 years ago | (#38508358)

The moon however, is pretty much a solid rock, there no known movements of its surface

Oh, except for all the crap that has been sandblasting it since the dawn of time. Every time a new crater is formed, everything that is ejected out of the hole blankets the area around it, and the ground will quiver like a bell from the impact. While there doesn't appear to be any current tectonic activity, the surface of the moon is far from static.

Re:first (2)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 2 years ago | (#38509872)

but all those craters were made over the last four billion years. There's only two inches of dust (on average) accumulated in that time!

Re:first (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38510282)

In case you haven't noticed, those "all the crap that has been sandblasting it since the dawn of time" have been hitting the Earth harder and faster. (We're bigger, so we tend to attract more rocks, and when they do hit us they're usually faster.)

The fact that we see those crap almost nowhere in the earth tells something about the comparative magnitude of all the *Earthen crap* that sandblasts its own surface all year around.

Re:first (4, Informative)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#38508400)

Its probably easier to get to the moon than the bottom of the deepest oceans.

I don't think so. It takes ~1970 technology to reach the moon, along with a monstrous budget, yet it only takes a small budget and 1960 technology to reach the deepest point in the ocean:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bathyscaphe_Trieste [wikipedia.org]

Re:first (3, Insightful)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#38508490)

I don't think so. It takes ~1970 technology to reach the moon, along with a monstrous budget, yet it only takes a small budget and 1960 technology to reach the deepest point in the ocean:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bathyscaphe_Trieste [wikipedia.org]

And how long do you think you'd take to survey the entire sea-bed that way?

I'm not saying it would be a bad idea; if nothing else it would probably find some interesting old wrecks, but I'd be surprised if it was as fast and cheap as surveying the lunar surface at resolutions high enough to spot any kind of alien prescence. That said, I very much doubt there's anything to see up there.

Re:first (2)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#38508720)

And how long do you think you'd take to survey the entire sea-bed that way?

I never said it was fast, I was just countering the earlier assertion that it's easier to get to the moon than the bottom of the deepest ocean, because we did the latter a full decade before the former, with a much smaller budget too. And our moon missions didn't exactly cover a lot of territory on the moon, either, they just landed at a pre-selected spot, walked around a bit (drove around in some later missions), collected some rocks, planted a flag, and left.

With modern ROV technology, I doubt it'd be that much harder to survey the entire sea-bed than to survey the entire moon (it'd be slower because of the medium, and also because the earth is much bigger than the moon even if you only survey the underwater parts).

Re:first (5, Interesting)

Baloroth (2370816) | more than 2 years ago | (#38509508)

The problem is most of the ocean is dark. Like, really, really, dark. The depth alone isn't a problem. The darkness, combined with the extremely limited visibility, is. You can see the entire surface of the moon from, well, just step outside on a night with a full moon. The bottom of ocean? Not so much. You can even make a precise survey of the lunar surface's height using laser rangefinding. Down to about 40m (vertical, 100m horizontal), which isn't bad at all. The closest thing for the ocean is sonar, and that is nowhere near as precise.

Don't remember where I heard it, but some scientist once commented that we know more about the surface of Mars than we do about our own ocean. It is surprisingly difficult to survey the ocean. According to the NOAA: "Yet for all of our reliance on the ocean, 95 percent of this realm remains unexplored, unseen by human eyes." (source [noaa.gov] ). There is a reason we are still discovering new life in the ocean (and a lot of it too).

Re:first (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#38509698)

I was just countering the earlier assertion that it's easier to get to the moon than the bottom of the deepest ocean, because we did the latter a full decade before the former, with a much smaller budget too. And our moon missions didn't exactly cover a lot of territory on the moon, either

Lunar Orbiter surveyed pretty much the entire moon in the mid-60s. The resolution wasn't enough to see alien footprints, but that was limited by the camera technology of the time.

Re:first (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 2 years ago | (#38509902)

that's silly, we're already in the gravity well. Approaching from space, which is easier to reach and return? remember a starship could have a fusion drive that works for months or years to get to near light speed at less than one gee acceleration, but that won't get you off Earth, but could well get you to and off the moon.

Re:first (4, Insightful)

viperidaenz (2515578) | more than 2 years ago | (#38508894)

24 people have been to the moon, 2 to the bottom of the ocean. There are currently satellites orbiting the moon, there is nothing man made swimming around the bottom of the ocean right now. The first unmanned vehicle to go down there was in 1995, the last in 2009.

You can communicate with the moon in less than 2 seconds using radio waves. It takes 7 seconds for sonar to reach the bottom of the ocean.

There's apparently a $10,000,000 prize if you can get there twice

Re:first (1, Troll)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#38509286)

There's apparently a $10,000,000 prize if you can get there twice

To the bottom of the ocean? Doubtful, and citation needed. If some guys in 1960 can build a craft that takes actual humans down to the bottom of the Mariana Trench, and go down there successfully, it would be pretty trivial for someone to do the same thing now twice in a row.

As for nothing swimming around down there, how do you know? There's lots of private companies that operate ROVs for various reasons, such as treasure hunting. They don't publicize every time they send an ROV down to explore shipwrecks looking for Doubloons. There's other researchers using larger ROVs for deeper dives for research purposes, but again, those things don't make the news the way space exploration does.

You don't need sonar to communicate with the bottom of the ocean; you can just string a wire down there from your surface vessel and get lightspeed communications. How do the ROVs communicate?

Re:first (2)

viperidaenz (2515578) | more than 2 years ago | (#38509758)

I didn't provide a citation because it was one click [wikipedia.org] away from the link you provided previously.

Cables aren't very robust. The first unmanned vehicle to go down there is MIA after its cable broke in 2003. Its replacement hasn't ventured to the bottom of challenger deep yet.

Re:first (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38509816)

Check the images for signs of data falsification. The new Photoshopped images algorithm detects fakery.

Behind a paywall, don't bother. (5, Informative)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38508042)

It's behind a paywall, don't bother. disregard. A pity, sounds like an interesting idea, would have been nice to read about it.

Re:Behind a paywall, don't bother. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38508388)

If you're interested: http://www.megaupload.com/?d=6D85NAQZ

Our own backyard? (3, Insightful)

Mikachu (972457) | more than 2 years ago | (#38508044)

I appreciate the idea of searching for extraterrestrial artifacts, but the moon does not seem a logical place for aliens to drop off their stuff. If anything, it seems far more likely that the earth would be such a place, seeing as it has life already (and has been far more active over the course of its history) so if it makes sense to search anywhere, it's here. I'm not sure what could really be accomplished by scouring the moon...

Re:Our own backyard? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38508102)

How likely is it that any extraterrestrial traces on Earth could survive to be unambiguously identified?

Re:Our own backyard? (1)

wooferhound (546132) | more than 2 years ago | (#38508144)

Skip the Rock and Head for the Water

Oh Crap, captured by the intense gravity and burned up in the dense atmosphere

Re:Our own backyard? (4, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 2 years ago | (#38508146)

If you wanted to leave a lasting indication of your existence, the moon would be a good place for it. It's unusual in our solar system (the only large moon around a rocky planet). If they visited in the last few billion years, then it would have been in orbit around a planet with life. It also lacks the surface erosion that you get on Earth (no water freezing and melting, no atmospheric effects), so an artefact left there would last for a long time. The stuff the Apollo crews left there is still in good condition - imagine what state it would be in if it were left almost anywhere on Earth (with the possible exception of Antarctica) for the same length of time...

Re:Our own backyard? (4, Funny)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 2 years ago | (#38508412)

The stuff the Apollo crews left there is still in good condition - imagine what state it would be in if it were left almost anywhere on Earth

It would have been stolen and fenced on eBay . . . along with those Moon rocks "lost" by NASA . . .

Alien Earth Visitor to his Captain: "I have violated our Prime Directive. I left our technology on Earth. That will influence the development of their culture."

Captain: "Don't worry about it. Someone will steal it and sell on eBay, where no one will believe that it is authentic anyway. These Earthlings are a thieving race."

Re:Our own backyard? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38508172)

If I were an alien, I wouldn't want to "drop something off " to the earth instead of the moon, ever. The earths potential well is much larger than that of the moon. It wouldn't make sense to drop of something on the earth. If anything, it would probably be even better to drop it on Phobos, rather than our own moon.

Re:Our own backyard? (3, Funny)

NEDHead (1651195) | more than 2 years ago | (#38508868)

Hmm, they travel a minimum of 4 lightyears to get here, and they are worried about the earth's gravity well? I don't think so.

Re:Our own backyard? (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 2 years ago | (#38509642)

they may well be, you could launch a starship from a planet's orbit and slowly get to good fraction of lightspeed just accelerating at less than a gee for months or a few years, but that kind of drive won't get you off a planet.

Re:Our own backyard? (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | more than 2 years ago | (#38509798)

Check your ego human.

I can believe aliens quarantining/visiting earth if it's not a huge effort. But traveling for generations just to anal probe a bunch of noofies, hippies and rednecks?

Re:Our own backyard? (1)

NEDHead (1651195) | more than 2 years ago | (#38511046)

On to a planet, not off. Much easier that way.

Re:Our own backyard? (2)

perpenso (1613749) | more than 2 years ago | (#38508208)

I appreciate the idea of searching for extraterrestrial artifacts, but the moon does not seem a logical place for aliens to drop off their stuff. If anything, it seems far more likely that the earth would be such a place, seeing as it has life already (and has been far more active over the course of its history) so if it makes sense to search anywhere, it's here. I'm not sure what could really be accomplished by scouring the moon...

The argument in the SETI paper is that the lunar environment can preserve surface artifacts and alterations for millions of years. Plus the search only involves looking at satellite imagery be collected for other reasons. No one is claiming the moon was a more likely destination.

Re:Our own backyard? (4, Interesting)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 2 years ago | (#38508332)

Why on the moon? Why not in a high orbit around the earth. No need to land anything and it would be easier to spot for any technologically advanced society. Put a really big shinny metal ball in orbit at say 70,000 km and it will stay in orbit for geological time scales and if big enough be visible with a telescope from earth. How bit it needs to be will depend on how shiny and how bit of a telescope you are using. It doesn't have to be heavy just big.

Re:Our own backyard? (1)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 2 years ago | (#38508386)

Why on the moon? Why not in a high orbit around the earth.

You mean, like this one? [huffingtonpost.com] ;)

Re:Our own backyard? (4, Informative)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 2 years ago | (#38509092)

That came from low earth orbit. Nothing from a very high orbit has fallen. For instance http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vanguard_1 [wikipedia.org] is expected to last 200+years and has a much lower orbit than the one I mentioned or one could look at the rather large natural satellite that has been in orbit around the Earth for a very long time.

Re:Our own backyard? (2)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#38508448)

But if it's visible with a telescope from earth, then those earth lifeforms would be able to see it long before they developed the means to go look at it up-close. Maybe the Aliens want to wait for us to naturally develop both the desire and the ability to go into space and explore other celestial bodies before we stumble across an artifact from them.

Re:Our own backyard? (1)

devilspgd (652955) | more than 2 years ago | (#38509332)

If this were the case, the opposite side of the moon would be a good candidate, as might putting it in Earth's orbit, but located on the opposite side of the sun from us.

Re:Our own backyard? (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#38509898)

Exactly, just like the monolith in 2001.

Re:Our own backyard? (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 2 years ago | (#38509342)

Until we where very developed we would have no idea that it was not natural. Frankly our extremely large moon already surved that function very well. Not to mention that the very act of developing larger and larger telescopes shows a desire to explore other celestial bodies.
Simple truth is that trying to decide what is hidden enough for an alien race that is capable of interstellar flight is a fools errand. But then again it is also most likely a fools errand to look for artifacts on the moon. My choice is based on what is the simplest to do that will most likely achieve the same goal. At least this will be a cheap project and we may get some better maps of the moon from it.

Re:Our own backyard? (1)

NEDHead (1651195) | more than 2 years ago | (#38508898)

Exactly!! And make it look like a disproportionately large moon! No one will ever miss the obvious alien gigundous moon orbiting Earth! Oh, wait...

Re:Our own backyard? (1)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 2 years ago | (#38508348)

OK, maybe aliens are more likely to have visited the Earth than the Moon.

So: Where on the Earth are we likely to be able to see undisturbed footprints (or pawprints or tentacleprints or whatever) dating back more than a few days, weeks, months, or (if we're lucky) years? It would have to be some place without other living things that would obscure those footprints by walking all over them, and a place without air or water to erode them. It would also have to be lacking in indigenous lifeforms (ever) that could have created those prints themselves.

Sorry, but I'm coming up blank.

But if we look at the next closest planetoid.... Hey! It's a moon with a dry, lifeless, tectonically inert, vacuum-surrounded surface that's been visited by only a dozen ambulatory organisms, which disturbed only a tiny and well-documented fraction of the surface! Maybe we could look there?

Re:Our own backyard? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38509076)

THe motherfuckin dark side of the moon.

Re:Our own backyard? (1)

da8add1e (1244554) | more than 2 years ago | (#38508408)

Unless they know something they ain't telling us? Strange perhaps but; all in all i can see their point, the moon has remained fairly static whilst the earth has undergone some fairly radical upheaval, also the moon would make an excellent base and observation post for alien anthropologists and biologists.

Re:Our own backyard? (1)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 2 years ago | (#38509586)

This does kind of have the smell of a big secret about to brake and rather admit to lying for years and years, they just say, ohh, look what we found, surprise, surprise. Apparently some countries heading into space aren't into this whole let's keep it a secret deal, it might affect the whole power base.

Re:Our own backyard? (1)

Jeremi (14640) | more than 2 years ago | (#38508748)

the moon does not seem a logical place for aliens to drop off their stuff. If anything, it seems far more likely that the earth would be such a place, seeing as it has life already

Precisely why the lifeless moon is a better place. That way the local riff-raff is less likely to steal your stuff.

Re:Our own backyard? (1)

twotacocombo (1529393) | more than 2 years ago | (#38508832)

You assume extraterrestrial life would be interested solely in investigating other life forms. Perhaps we're just one of millions of planets that harbor life, and they've already been there, done that. The moon does have uses other than just looking up at it. I remember the possibility of large amounts of Helium-3 up there..

Re:Our own backyard? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38509158)

What possible use does a 1 ppm concentration of He3 on a lifeless rock with no infrastructure have? I mean there are large amounts of gold dissolved in our oceans, I don't see any mad rush to extract it, and gold is worth a lot, AND everything you could possibly need to do it is right here.

Re:Our own backyard? (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 2 years ago | (#38509762)

They bring their infrastructure with them? He3 is worth roughly 100x what gold is, to us humans. Despite what Cowboys and Aliens taught us about the Big Green Men, He3 is worth a LOT if you're riding a fusion powered ship around

Re:Our own backyard? (1)

mikael (484) | more than 2 years ago | (#38510410)

The conspiracy theorists that believe that the moon landings did occur, also believe that the astronauts saw underground installations in the sides of the larger craters (lots of lights), as well as rather large "menacing craft" watching them as they walked on the surface.

Fascinating concept for a sci-fi story at least . Not sure if living in the edge of a crater would provide that much protection from stray asteroids, because they could still coming in at an angle. Perhaps shielding from solar radiation would work.

One thing that does fascinate me is why animations of the libration of the moon show vertical stripes in the mid-center. Is that an effect of photography composition or something on the moon?

Re:Our own backyard? (4, Interesting)

cavreader (1903280) | more than 2 years ago | (#38509658)

If clear evidence of extraterrestrials is ever found can you imagine the gigantic shit storm it would create? Just watching all the various religions running around in circles trying to fit the fact into their sacred canons would be hilarious. Back in the day anyone claiming the Earth was round and not flat were labeled heretics and killed. Galileo's observations of the basic structure of the solar system almost got him killed.

Re:Our own backyard? (2)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38511170)

If clear evidence of extraterrestrials is ever found can you imagine the gigantic shit storm it would create? Just watching all the various religions running around in circles trying to fit the fact into their sacred canons would be hilarious.

I've studied quite a bit of comparative religion, and I think you're just wrong about this.
Can you name a single religion that would really have a big problem with it, and explain why?

Re:Our own backyard? (3, Interesting)

cavreader (1903280) | more than 2 years ago | (#38511656)

Most main stream religions seem to pontificate about how God created man in is own image. The main religions of the world which are Christianity and Islam were created are to serve as a control mechanism that allowed the people at the top to gain power and wealth. Organized religion is responsible for unspeakable acts of cruelty that have more more to do with maintaining power and wealth for it's leaders than it does for providing comfort for the regular worshipper. Islam is especially good example of how to keep people on their knees far better than any monarchy or similar political system could. The religious leaders through the ages have used their power to extract subservience to the church or mosques using "God" as the control. I have always believed that the religions think in small terms. In order for man or any other lifeforms to exists first requires the creation of the entire universe before it can be populated with lifeforms but the major religions on Earth define it as the center of all creation. Politicians of all types mouth religious proclamations to gain power. The US leaders who mention God do so knowing they really have nothing to lose and pandering to religions to obtain votes from the religious blocks of voters. To me religious faith is a personal and internal state of mind that does not depend on practicing man made made rituals and relying on books written by man. In my opinion discovering that humanity is not alone in the universe can lessen the religious power that know is used to control people.

Paging James P Hogan! (2)

50000BTU_barbecue (588132) | more than 2 years ago | (#38508050)

I enjoyed his Inherit the Stars [wikipedia.org] series.

crowdsourcing may add a lot of work here (2)

sl4shd0rk (755837) | more than 2 years ago | (#38508058)

Not sure how feasible this would be to crowdsource. Wouldn't you need some reasonably trained eyeballs to avoid the cost and time of researching the "ooo I see a footprint" dead-ends?

Re:crowdsourcing may add a lot of work here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38508072)

Hey look, I found a flag!

Re:crowdsourcing may add a lot of work here (1)

rubycodez (864176) | more than 2 years ago | (#38509778)

*gulp* but it only has 48 stars!

Re:crowdsourcing may add a lot of work here (1)

mister_playboy (1474163) | more than 2 years ago | (#38510836)

Alaska and Hawaii had become states by the time of the lunar landings.

Re:crowdsourcing may add a lot of work here (2)

Rockoon (1252108) | more than 2 years ago | (#38508268)

I'm not sure that cost/time matters as long as you have a large enough sampling from a diverse group. Generate weighting Wi for each point on the grid based on what the crowd thinks, and then start the "expert" cost/time analysis at the highest weight and work down..

At each iteration all the weights can be adjusted based on the experts input about the specific grid point he or she is looking at.

fair dinkum (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38508064)

It's taken years to find the apollo landing sites... how on 'moon' are they going to spot.... oh wait... the monolith.... nevermind...

Send in the crowds (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38508088)

Crowdsourcing on the Moon could solve the population problem on Earth.

Feel free to start here: (4, Funny)

IMarvinTPA (104941) | more than 2 years ago | (#38508090)

This may give them a leg up on the process:
http://www.marsanomalyresearch.com/evidence-directories/7-moon/moon-directory.htm [marsanomalyresearch.com]

Re:Feel free to start here: (1)

chichilalescu (1647065) | more than 2 years ago | (#38508772)

gave me a chuckle, thank you.

Re:Feel free to start here: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38511644)

This is serious evidential research. You nerds are required by human decency to give it some consideration. It's almost 2012, time to leave your arogant, ignorant and meek nieve follower thinking behind and try to get to the bottom of this matter. You are adults right? Act like it. Evaluate evidence before making smart comments and pretending you know everything.

Evil communist plot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38508104)

Some patriotic American will probably soon claim that this is an evil communist plot hoping to reveal that the Apollo program was a hoax.

Mars (1)

Zalchiah (914703) | more than 2 years ago | (#38508124)

Pffft. We all know the Prothean artifacts will be found on Mars. Lets start there.

ancient aliens (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38508214)

Sounds this will turn into a good 'Ancient Aliens' episode

Hmmm, A monolyth under the surface (1)

PenguinJeff (1248208) | more than 2 years ago | (#38508272)

Wow, does this sounds like Sci-fi or what?

bullseye? (4, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38508284)

I can't read the article, but wouldn't it be better to plant non-visual clues if we were trying to signal to an alien civilization?

Maybe... concentric rings of something weird for the moon, like an obscure U isotope? with something cool buried at the bullseye?

A bored physicist spending too much time with a cyclotron separator on a lonely posting on the far end of the galaxy could be pretty entertaining if he got a bit squirrely in carrying out his mission. How about some weird isotope that is mostly stable and can only be made in a reactor? Maybe some Tc-98? The Ru-98 decay product is stable, and a high concentration of Ru-98 laying about would be almost as bizarre as finding Tc-98 laying about.

I think driving a mass spectrometer around the planets and moons would be an interesting scientific study regardless of SETI implications.

For that matter, if "they" planted a decorative geometric care package of Tc-98 on the moon, I'm not entirely clear why "they" couldn't have done something similar here, somewhere geologically stable-ish.

Interestingly enough, more than 100 yrs ago all this Tc-98 talk would have been meaningless. Its hard to say how future techs might find even weirder stuff. If there is any real world prime directive, it might not rely on being observed, the galactic "you must be this tall for the ride" chart might be observing something really weird once we have quantum computers or a convenient portable intense hand held source of higgs particles.

I would imagine a really bored physicist could do other odd Fortean stuff, like bury a giant freaking microwave waveguide turned into an interdigital filter with passbands such that you whack it with a strong white noise source the resulting output displayed on a spectrum analyzer is a crazy morse code/rs-232 like signal saying "hi", or maybe "dig here for care package". Even just burying radar retroreflectors in a geometric pattern would totally freak out the radar guys.

Note to boss: Do not send vlm on boring interplanetary field posting or he's really going to intensely F with the native's heads once he goes bonkers, or more bonkers anyway.

Re:bullseye? (0)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#38508410)

I can see it already.. "I can't believe they sent me on this interplanetary posting to the far side of the galaxy with a flashlight and a can of bug spray... if they try to take my red stapler back to the home worlds... I'll ... I'll ... I'll mix up a batch of a million gallons of Tc-98 isotopically enhanced radioactive ink and use my spacecraft observation probe as a giant space based ink jet printer to spray a 100 mile wide radioactive goatse.jpg on the far side of the moon... and when the natives finally get there and graph out the spectroscopic abundance, oh they'll be trouble then... thats what they got for trying to take my red stapler ... I'll do it, I swear I'll do it"

Oh Well, I suppose this is yet another tired social media story, there goes my chance at ever getting hired by NASA...

PNRORB(UEJO! THE (1)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | more than 2 years ago | (#38508306)

itwasa rainy day and Iwsaw Lenny in the sky from my windoew and the eggs grilled!!!!!!!!! FOG

Can they please look for this first: (5, Interesting)

ack_call (870944) | more than 2 years ago | (#38508334)

http://www.viewzone.com/monalisa.html [viewzone.com]

I want to believe it's real - but if this really is on the moon then I think we'd have been visiting the moon more frequently to study its construction and the technology it would hold - but we haven't so for that reason I don't believe.

Re:Can they please look for this first: (1)

hcs_$reboot (1536101) | more than 2 years ago | (#38510790)

Modded 5 "interesting"... ok. Fortunately it's not up to "informative"...

Re:Can they please look for this first: (1)

gQuigs (913879) | more than 2 years ago | (#38510910)

That's totally the premise from the latest transformers movie.. and I never thought I would say that they actually did a more convincing job in that movie than the above site...

lunar regolith deposition rate (1)

bdgregg (744616) | more than 2 years ago | (#38508352)

This depends on the lunar regolith deposition rate, which I've seen quoted as 1 cm per 2-3 million years. Imagine Tranquility Base - which has over 100 man made artifacts on the surface (http://spacegrant.nmsu.edu/lunarlegacies/artifactlist.html) - in one million years from now, with half a centimeter of dust. This makes the lunar surface a time capsule of past activity (provided the site doesn't get wiped out by an asteroid impact), in a way that the Earth isn't. We've yet to photograph the surface at high enough resolution to really know what's there.

Re:lunar regolith deposition rate (1)

Ol Biscuitbarrel (1859702) | more than 2 years ago | (#38510810)

Have we looked for buried magnetic anomalies? You know, the kind that are 1:4:9.

I posted in some other story about the probes gravity mapping the moon, perhaps they'll find something odd subsurface. Wonder what the resolution for those probes is. The corresponding probes that examined Earth look to have had pretty gross imaging, just going by what's shown in the infographic for that story.

Somehow this reminds me of: (4, Funny)

Tanuki64 (989726) | more than 2 years ago | (#38508404)

A drunk loses the keys to his house and is looking for them under a lamppost. A policeman comes over and asks what he's doing.

"I'm looking for my keys" he says. "I lost them over there".

The policeman looks puzzled. "Then why are you looking for them all the way over here?"

"Because the light is so much better".

Is this slashdot or is it... (0)

bmo (77928) | more than 2 years ago | (#38508534)

Late night with George Noory?

Are we going to take the "Nazis built Cydonia" loony-tunes hypothesis too?

--
BMO

Re:Is this slashdot or is it... (1)

bmo (77928) | more than 2 years ago | (#38508558)

I accidentally left out the entire word "seriously" there.

But you get the idea.

--
BMO

Re:Is this slashdot or is it... (1)

Ol Biscuitbarrel (1859702) | more than 2 years ago | (#38510820)

Richard Hoaglund must be fired up about this. They ever figure out what that equilateral triangle [theforbidd...wledge.com] in that one crater was?

seti@home (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38508758)

Sign me up!

seti@home has been a part of all my pc setups since 1999.

This makes perfect sense, is doable and could work if like on a screen saver. Hopefully you'll see the etprints and not be in the loo!!!

Again sign me up!

Where did the drunk look for his keys? (3, Interesting)

wisebabo (638845) | more than 2 years ago | (#38508838)

Near the lamppost.

Why?

"Because that's where the light is!"

Sort of the same reasoning is at play here, we are looking for the "keys" on the moon not because that's the best way to find SETI but because well it's "easy" (just crowd source it) and cheap (as long as we've already got hi-res photos of much of the moons surface).

It should not be viewed as a replacement for other more serious efforts (that will actually cost money).

Re:Where did the drunk look for his keys? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38510528)

be realistic guys, they will find plenty of evidence if they choose to admit it...

Crowdsourcing is free, so why not (1)

joh (27088) | more than 2 years ago | (#38508876)

I would say it's pretty much pointless, but won't do any harm.

Why do I think it's pointless? Well, I don't think that aliens visited. While I don't doubt very much there's life elsewhere, maybe even intelligent life, maybe even life with a civilisation that came up with technology, I doubt very much that faster-than-light travel is possible. Still, who knows?

IF there were aliens visiting our system, having them leave some sign on the Moon isn't that silly an idea. Things there will last a long time and if they wanted to make sure that we will find it some day, it's a good place. We would need fairly good science and technology to spot it in the first place and even better to reach it, which makes sure we won't just destroy or forget it immediately. Putting something in orbit where we could spot it even after a billion years is hard. Digging something like perfectly straight trenches forming a cross or a square on the Moon (and maybe dig in a time capsule in the center) is easy and it would last a very long time there.

Of course if you crowdsource such a search there will be no shortage of idiots seeing things in perfectly natural shadows and whatever. Better use software to look for straight lines and geometric shapes. I doubt it will find anything worthwhile, but it's surely fun and shouldn't be too hard to do anyway.

Re:Crowdsourcing is free, so why not (1)

devilspgd (652955) | more than 2 years ago | (#38509450)

Of course if you crowdsource such a search there will be no shortage of idiots seeing things in perfectly natural shadows and whatever. Better use software to look for straight lines and geometric shapes. I doubt it will find anything worthwhile, but it's surely fun and shouldn't be too hard to do anyway.

While it's true that idiots will find "strange" things in natural phenomenon, that isn't necessarily a bad thing if you set the hit threshold appropriately high. Once a block is assigned as being possible, you might then schedule that same block to be reviewed by additional users (more than normal, and much faster) to speed up identification. As long as one or two idiots can't waste a ton of time, the actual scientists can then perform a review.

Software generally needs to be told what to look for while humans only need be told what to ignore, so in some respects humans will do a better job here (or at least a different job than software will do)

What a waste of time... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38508896)

There aren't any aliens, except in the movies. This wastes our money, time, efforts, and dashes our hopes of finding any life forms on the moon.

Just use Mechanical Turk (1)

wbr1 (2538558) | more than 2 years ago | (#38509144)

For the low low price of $0.05 per 5 pictures, tons of poor dweebs and Indians (from India) will do it on Amazon's Mechanical Turk. :-P

Not only recent visits, but long past (1)

Eravnrekaree (467752) | more than 2 years ago | (#38509212)

This is not really a bad idea, considering as well the moon has little erosion, you wouldnt just be looking for something in the recent history, but considering the moon is 4.5 billion years old, there is a possibility that someone could have been there in the past. It is sort of ridiculous to assume that if intelligent life did visit the moon that it would have done so, just in the past few years, or that, some past vist there long ago would be of no interest, of course it would be of interest. Also consider the fact that if an ET visited this area long ago, maybe 5 million years ago, any evidence on earth could easily disappear due to erosion, however, things would be much better preserved on the moon, if they had for whatever reason decided to land on the moon. Another theory is that there may be some universal prime directive treaty, where you cant mess with life on a planet, since the moon has no life on it, if you were an ET and wanted to watch and study the earth from afar withouit landing their, the moon might be a good location to do so.

Do it soon (1)

Rix (54095) | more than 2 years ago | (#38509290)

The moon is no longer really out of reach of private activity. For the moment it still takes noticeable economic activity, but don't count it staying that way.

Absurd waste of time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38509306)

Shut down the SETI project. I know most people here will have an aneurysm at that phrase but seriously, how long has this project gone on? A little over 50 years since the first conference, according to Wikipedia. And have they accomplished... anything? At all? It's obvious they're grasping at straws now. Their time would be better spent doing basic physics research or identifying potentially harmful NEOs. Ultimately these pursuits would lead to a discovery of alien life more quickly by advancing the fields of physics, astronomy, and cosmology - instead of wasting time digging around in the dirt on the moon. It's as if Cortés went looking for the city of gold and just stayed in Barcelona dicking around in a sandbox.

umm (1)

buddyglass (925859) | more than 2 years ago | (#38509874)

This seems like a job for computers. They don't have to recognize what an image is; they just have to recognize that it's "sufficiently anomalous to what is typical of the lunar landscape". If nothing else, use image recognition to flag "interesting" areas for further inspection by a human being.

Re:umm (1)

osu-neko (2604) | more than 2 years ago | (#38510886)

This seems like a job for computers. They don't have to recognize what an image is; they just have to recognize that it's "sufficiently anomalous to what is typical of the lunar landscape". If nothing else, use image recognition to flag "interesting" areas for further inspection by a human being.

Alas, this is precisely the kind of task that, in comparison to humans, computers suck terribly badly at. By depending on the computer to flag "interesting" first, you're substantially reducing the odds of spotting something interesting.

Re:umm (1)

buddyglass (925859) | more than 2 years ago | (#38511576)

Sure. But if you have limited human computing power, then using the compute as a heuristic to select the set of areas to human-inspect is probably better than selecting areas at random.

Alien footsteps? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38510972)

They are going to look for alien artifacts? We already know that at least one alien lifeform has visited the moon and left artifacts behind.

The aliens are humans because humans are alien to the moon!.

We all get to go to the moon and look for aliens? (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 2 years ago | (#38511006)

Great! Where do I sign up?

(No, I didn't read the article)

Mission Impossible: Moon (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38511068)

The lunar surface is uniquely pummeled by constant unmoderated impacts. It is the very last place to look for ancient surface features from anything other than relentless asteroid impacts.

This is the single biggest waste of time and resources I have ever heard of.

I have heard of many.

JJ

The cats out of the bag... (1)

jhd (7165) | more than 2 years ago | (#38511128)

... they're covering their tracks as we speak.

-- john

All on the dark side of the moon... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38511134)

a pink floyd album can tell you that!

If they can cross interstellar space... (1)

w0mprat (1317953) | more than 2 years ago | (#38511764)

... what need would they have of anything at the bottom of a energetically expensive gravity well? Covering interstellar distance at less than light speed necessitates adaptation to micro-gravity. Covering interstellar distance faster than light would require manipulating the laws of physics in a way that artificial gravity wouldn't seem difficult. So you'd eliminate the need to cater for fleshy gravity-adapted bodies that suffer in microgravity. Either way the technological level required for these feats makes biological engineering or mind uploading etc seem trivial. It's all moot if they decide to clean up after themselves, and finally with all that technology they would also find it rather easy to stay hidden entirely, as they do all the science on us they want. (Bare in mind we do similar things with wildlife, studying them without disturbing them).

If they really needed to mine some in-system resources, they would have mined asteroids. HINT Look for asteroid mining and weird shit left behind at Lagrange points.

It's already unlikely but I seriously doubt any alien artifacts or footprints would be found on the moon, even if they had visited. At best perhaps a unexplained scoop mark or bore hole where a sample was taken by some automated probe. Hardly great evidence of ET, just weird and tantalizing. As for Earth, ET may not want to interfere. Much as these days we try not to disturb wildlife, prefer only to investigate and observe (much more scientific value in a pristine environment than one that has been contaminated). They may also be weary of leaving any unmistakable trace of anything extraterrestrial, especially on such an obvious destination (moon) for a fledgling space-faring civilization to stumble upon. Historically contact between previously isolated cultures of different technological level didn't turn out so well.

I think aliens showing up in fleshy bodies is by far the least likely ET contact scenario. Right up there with finding some of their refuse they dumped in a crater on our moon. Somewhere down the list, finding trojan asteroids mysteriously stripped of particular metals or organics. I support SETI in principal, but I'm just realistic: if aliens were here, there's little reason we'd be aware of it, even if we went looking.

It stands to reason that intelligent ETs will have a strong desire to find other life and actually send out missions to make contact, and at very least survey it's sky for other habitable worlds. I'd put money down on the fact we've probably already been observed, in great detail.

A hint for the SETI guys: don't look at the moon, start looking closely for near-earth asteroids that buzz us on unusual trajectories, because it could be staring back.

Ok, WHERE on the moon should we look? (1)

wisebabo (638845) | more than 2 years ago | (#38511772)

Let's assume that the Aliens DID leave us some thing on the moon for us to find and it's pretty small and non-obvious from a distance (like a giant set of intersecting lines at the center of a huge circle). Don't ask me why, maybe they were lazy or they didn't want something that could be discovered by just looking through a telescope on earth.

Aside from the ideas previously expressed using some sort of technological marker (radioactivity, isotopes or, as in "2001" a magnetic anomaly) where would they put this artifact? Here are some proposed locations:

Assuming that the moon is tidally locked to earth for a LONG time, at the point closest to earth (or on the far side, furthest from earth).

If the moon is not tidally locked for a sufficient period but its orbital axis IS stable, how about at the pole(s)?

Any other ideas? Leading/trailing edge of the moon? In the center of a big (biggest) crater? Tallest mountain or deepest canyon?

Hell, why not just put some stuff in a Trojan or Lagrangian point.

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