Watch CBS News

E.T. Phoning Home? SETI Institute Scientists Point Telescopes Toward Possible Signal From Space

MOUNTAIN VIEW (CBS SF) -- A signal detected by a Russian telescope is giving hope to NorCal astronomers searching for extraterrestrial life that ET could be phoning home.

Reports of the signal, which was received on May 15th, 2015 by the telescope in Zelenchukskaya, in the Karachay-Cherkess Republic of Russia, were first reported on Centauri Dreams, which reports on space-related news.

The signal was coming from the constellation Hercules and scientists in Mountain View at the SETI Institute (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) have pointed their telescopes in that direction.

Their giant antennae are situated about 300 miles northeast of San Francisco.

"We're going to be very systematic about checking the entire radio dial over which the Russians claimed to have found the signal so if that signal is still there and it's for real, then we have a good chance of finding it tonight," said SETI Senior Astronomer Seth Shostak.

He says his team is investigating whether that mysterious and powerful signal from a star system could be intentional. While the researchers in Russia claim they came across it last year, Bay Area scientists didn't start talking about it this weekend when it became public in a blog.

And if scientists here do pick up that extra energy on a radio dial?

"All we'd know is that there's somebody and in this case 95 light years away - that's 600 trillion millions by the way that's a long way, who's got a radio transmitter," says Shostak. "So we're not the only kids on the block, there's something else intelligent out there."

Shostak says the blip could also very just well be interference from Earth. But even if it doesn't happen this time around, he says he knows it will happen in the not so far future.

"We're here in the Silicon Valley and as a result, the equipment that we're using is improving very quickly like your laptop it gets better every couple of years. That's why I bet everybody a couple of Starbucks we'll find ET in two dozen years."

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.