The PhotonStar Project
NEW LASER RECEIVING SYSTEM ALLOWS AMATEUR
In a new proposed system involving global positioning satellites (GPS), user PC's and the Internet, amateur astronomers can participate in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) as part of a vast, geographically diverse array of small optical telescopes.
"By adding a sensitive laser detector to existing telescopes, and software to their PC's and locating their site exactly," Monte Ross, Director of the not-for-profit Laser Space Signal Observatory said "it becomes feasible to coordinate many thousands of individual small telescopes to aim at a specific star system at a precise time and have the system perform as if it were a giant telescope in detection of a laser pulse. Ross continued, "whereas, one small or even one reasonably large telescope would likely be inadequate to detect the weak signal from many light years away, the ability to include an enormous photon collection area to look in the same nanoseconds for an alien pulse becomes attractive."
It is well understood that short laser pulses are the most likely form of any laser radiation from intelligence sources in the universe as the laser pulse brightness can easily exceed the brightness of its star system by many orders of magnitude. Low duty cycle short pulses have also information advantages in carrying more information per photon.
Initially, the system will be tested with a few telescopes and then the system can rapidly expand. Any amateur astronomer with a PC and Internet capability can add a laser receiver and use the special software and join the array.
Coordination and processing of all the receiver outputs can be done at the central website location as well as telling the thousands of telescopes on where and when to point. All differences in distance from each telescope to the star system are calibrated out via their exact location of each site through the use of GPS.
Ross adds, "Only now, with the confluence of GPS, the PC's, the Internet and development of lower cost sensitive laser receivers is this system possible. As time goes on, the system can be expanded without affecting the existing members of the system."
The Laser Space Signal Observatory is a non-profit organization, sponsoring development of a laser receiver that will interface readily with the thousands of existing optical telescopes owned by amateur astronomers. For further information, contact Monte Ross at firstname.lastname@example.org, Stuart Kingsley at contact info or visit www.photonstar.org.
December 26, 2000