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Recommendations

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The following is a list of recommendations for extending Optical SETI activity:

1. Serious consideration should be given by SETI groups and NASA as to the merits of Optical SETI.
2. Assuming that the consensus in the community is that Optical SETI has considerable merit, funding should be solicited from Congress to support Optical SETI. This should not be at the expense of planned or on-going Microwave SETI programs.
3. Initiate programs to determine what are the most likely optical frequencies that extraterrestrials might choose for their transmissions.
4. Consideration should be given as to whether it is possible to develop adaptive optics to remove most atmospheric turbulence effects, so that ground-based telescopes can be used to good effect within the atmosphere.  If this can be done, NASA should solicit proposals for the development of a generic visible heterodyne front-end that can be mounted onto conventional large aperture telescopes, such as the new Keck.  It is possible that such adaptive arrays may lead to the detection of extraterrestrial signals.

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5. NASA should also consider developing a special front-end to be later retro-fitted to the Hubble Space Telescope, with a view to incorporating such technology in much larger space telescopes to be deployed early next century.  This could be an ideal project for Space Station Freedom.
6. As a separate development activity, NASA should also solicit proposals to develop the equivalent technology for the infrared, for later deployment in space on an infrared orbiting telescope.  This development is much easier, since if we assume operation at CO2 wavelengths, much of the technology has already been produced for other purposes, e.g., infrared heterodyne astronomy and communications.
7. NASA should solicit proposals for development of high-density two- dimensional PIN photodetector arrays with extended blue response in support of activities 4 & 5.   These elements are must have small active diameters, e.g., a few m, and electrical bandwidths in excess of 10 GHz.  Similar high-density arrays should be developed for activity 6.

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8. NASA should consider the desirability for developing the equivalent APD (Geiger-mode) photon-counting arrays, stirling engine cooling systems, and very high Q incoherent tunable filters for the light sciences, e.g., extra- solar planetary detection.
9. In support of the above activities, NASA should fund the development of suitable local-oscillator lasers for use across the entire infrared and visible spectrum.
10. These developments should be coordinated with the light sciences in order to realize the maximum scientific spin-off from these activities, particularly in regard to detecting extraterrestrial planetary systems, their atmospheres, and magnetic fields.
11. The SETI community should use this "new" approach to increase the public and Congressional awareness about SETI in general, and what it could mean for mankind if we successfully detect signals.  To this end, this material may be copied and distributed, subject to the conditions in the Copyright Notice at the front of each volume of this viewgraph report.

 

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