SETI 的历史 - 11

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<资料来源:The Planetary Society>


第11章:美国航空航天局(NASA)的介入

While most SETI searches were modest, local affairs, this was not always the case. The most ambitious of all SETI searches was conducted by NASA, which had access to funding and resources on a completely different scale than any of the other searches. Indeed - NASA involvement in SETI was decisive, both in gaining mainstream respectability for the extraterrestrial search and in advancing the search technology to levels undreamt of by the Ozma pioneers. At the same time, the NASA search also demonstrated the risks of dependence on government funding: during times of budget cuts in Washington, the SETI project turned out to be extremely vulnerable to changing political winds.


虽然大部分 SETI 搜索活动都是比较低调的,但这并不是所有的情况。SETI 史上最高调的搜索活动是由 NASA 主导的,后者所能掌控的现金和资源在数量上都远超其它搜索项目。确实,NASA 对 SETI 搜索活动的介入是决定性的,一方面为地外文明搜索赢得了主流社会的尊重,另一方面也将搜索技术推进到了当初的 Ozma 项目所难以想像的层次。与此同时,NASA 的介入也证实了由政府来提供资金进行搜索活动所带来的风险,在预算被华盛顿削减的日子里,SETI 项目在飘乎不定的政治风向面前实际上是极度脆弱的。


Cyclops 项目报告
Cyclops 项目报告的封面。

In 1970 John Billingham of NASA's Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California, convinced Ames director Henry Mark to start a small study of SETI strategies and the likelihood of contacting an alien civilization. The result was "Project Cyclops," a 1971 summer faculty fellowship program sponsored by Stanford University and NASA Ames.


1970 年,位于加州山景区的 NASA Ames 研究中心,John Billingham 说服了 Ames 的主管 Henry Mark,来启动一个关于 SETI 搜索策略和与外星文明进行联系的小型研究课题。然后“Cyclops(译注:希腊神话里的独眼巨人)计划”就在 1971 年夏天就诞生了,一个由由斯坦福大学和 NASA 资助的机构合作项目。


The moving spirit behind the study was Bernard M. Oliver, the Hewlett Packard VP who we've already met at the 1961 Green Bank conference. The proposal that emerged from the study, under Bernard's leadership, was ambitious indeed. It envisioned a forest of about one thousand 100-meter (about 300 ft) dishes, occupying an area of about 10 kilometers in diameter. If we remember that ten years earlier project Ozma was conducted with a single 85 ft telescope, we might get an idea of the scale of the project Oliver and his colleagues were proposing. Ozma cost $2000; Cyclops called for an investment of $10 billion!


背后的策划者是我们在 1961 年 Green Bank 会议上已经见过了 Bermard M.Oliver,Hewlett Packard VP。从学习中总结出的,并且是在 Bernard 领导下的建议变的真的有雄心了。它设想了个由 100 个 100 米的碟形天线组成、总共占地 10 平方千米的森林。如果我们想起 10 年前奥兹码计划所使用的单个 85 英尺的望远镜,我们就会在衡量 Oliver 计划和他的同僚们上有所感想。奥兹码花费 2000 美元;Cyclops 打算要求100亿美元。


The scale of the project was well beyond anything NASA would or could sanction. Its primary mission was launching spacecraft, and a SETI search would always be a sideshow for NASA. But even a small NASA program could command resources far in excess of anything available for SETI previously.


计划的预算完全超过了 NASA 原本实行和可以实行的计划。它的主要任务是发射空间探测器,而 SETI 将成为 NASA 的一个附属项目。但是以前甚至 NASA 的一个小计划都为了 SETI 能支配剩余可用的资源。


Bruce Murray
Former Director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and founder of The Planetary Society Credit: The Planetary Society

Over the next ten years, NASA continued to sponsor workshops and studies on the feasibility of SETI. Gradually, two main search strategies emerged. One approach, sponsored by NASA Ames, favored the traditional, "targeted" search. As with most (though not all) previous searches, the idea was to select certain stars, which were similar to our sun and relatively nearby, and listen carefully to any signals emanating from them. These stars, the argument went, offered the best chance of establishing contact with an alien civilization.


接下来的下个十年,NASA 继续进行赞助和考虑 SETI 的可行性。逐渐的,两个主要的搜索策略浮现水面。第一步,进行由NASA Ames 赞助,受到优待的传统“目标”搜索。像以前大部分(虽然不是全部)的搜索一样,它要选择一定数目类似我们太阳而且距离较近恒星,仔细监听从它们发出的信号。这些受到争议的恒星,提供了和地外文明建立联系的最好机会。


The other approach advocated a "full sky survey," and it was championed by Bruce Murray, director of the Jet Propulsion laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena. According to Murray it was futile to speculate where alien civilizations would be found. It was also useless to make any assumptions as to what frequency they would be transmitting in. The fact is, Murray insisted, that we just don't know. The only reasonable route is to systematically search the entire sky for a signal on the widest band of frequencies possible. Such a search would not be as sensitive as a targeted search, but it would make up for that by its breadth and scope.


接下来的一个倡导“全天观测”,而且它被位于 Pasadena 喷气推进实验室的主管 Bruce Murray 所推崇。他认为,推测外星生命在哪儿能被找到是无用的。而且对它们可能会发射电波的频率作出假想也是没用的。事实是,Murray 强调的东西,我们并不知道。唯一可行的道路是——在可能的频率带宽上进行系统的全天搜索。这样的搜索不会向第一种搜索那样灵敏,但是它可以知道带宽和作用范围。


By 1979 NASA had in place the outlines of a coherent SETI plan. Instead of choosing between the competing approaches, NASA decided to pursue them both. A targeted search would be based at NASA Ames, while an all-sky survey would be headquartered at JPL. An official NASA project named the "Microwave Observing Program" (MOP) was established to conduct the search, following a period of research and development.


直到 1979 年,NASA 已经拥有了一连串的 SETI 计划的雏形。不是在二种方案中选择哪个,NASA 决定两个计划都开始实施。目标搜索基于 NASA Ames,全天搜索由 JPL(喷气推进实验室)领导。在一系列的研究和发展的支持下,一个 NASA 官方名叫“Microwave Observing Program”(微波观测计划)的计划被确定用来管理整个搜索活动。

Lunar SETI
An artist's rendition of a Cyclops SETI telescope array on the dark side of the moon.


第10章:“哇!” ← | → 第12章:SETI到华盛顿

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