Alien Hunt Continues: ALMA's Radio Telescope With New Water-Detecting Receivers Can Help Detect Water In Cosmos

First Posted: Dec 22, 2016 02:45 AM EST

ALMA's (Atacama Large Millimeter Array) radio telescope is now better equipped to spot the presence of water in space. It is armed with new receivers.

Scientists on the quest of discovering extraterrestrial life or existence of aliens on other planets almost always look for the presence of life-saving H2O. The presence of water has also been a sign of existence of civilizations. This is because all carbon-based life forms need water to exist.

Therefore, when probes are sent to other planets or when scientists look into telescopes into the cosmos, they endeavor to detect water. Yet, water is not easy to spot using telescopes from the planet Earth.

Recently, endeavors to spot the existence of water have got a boost in the work of scientists by using the ALMA's radio telescope in Chile. New receivers have been installed in the ALMA radio telescope, and this promises to help detect the presence of water in the cosmos, reveals Inverse.

The location of the telescope is also advantageous for scientists. ALMA is positioned on the Chajnantor Plateau nearly 5,000 meters (16,400 feet) above the Atacama Desert of northern Chile. The air here is conducive as it is moisture less. The receivers that are highly sensitive can be very well utilized here as compared to other regions on the Earth.

How do the ALMA Radio Telescope Receivers Work?

The band 5 receivers are equipped with the capacity to identify electromagnetic radio, which is between the wavelength of 1.42 and 1.83 millimeters. The ALMA antennas pick up even the really weak signals and focus them onto the receivers.

Scientists had conducted many tests last year on the existing ALMA receivers and found that equipping the band 5 receivers with new ones in the wavelength 1.42 mm to 1.83 mm (211 GHz to 163 Ghz) will help enhance the radio frequency view of the sky.

New Atlas quoted ALMA Program Scientist Leonardo Testi as saying, "The new receivers will make it much easier to detect water, a prerequisite for life as we know it, in our Solar System and in more distant regions of our galaxy and beyond. They will also allow ALMA to search for ionised carbon in the primordial Universe."


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