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What if we detect life?

Astronomers explore the next steps in the search for ET.
RELATED TOPICS: EXOPLANETS | SETI
Alien-life
The search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) may not have found anything yet, but it’s important to plan a response, says SETI expert Seth Shostak — likely the first person to know when the search succeeds. // Astronomy: Roen Kelly
The June 2013 article “How to find ET with infrared light” describes one method for astronomers to search for intelligent civilizations on planets around other stars: by tracking the society’s heat. If such a hunt finds extraterrestrials, what would we do?

In 2012, Astronomy ran the article “What happens when we detect alien life?” to address these concerns. Seth Shostak, senior astronomer at the SETI Institute, described the science of such a discovery, overviewed SETI detection protocols, and explored the public’s uncertain reaction in that story. Read his thoughts by downloading the PDF below.
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