Readers!
 

The final week of my annual February birthday month fund-raising campaign for Behind the Black has begun. I continue to be overwhelmed by the outpouring of support, including numerous donations and a surge of new subscribers willing to commit to donating anywhere from $2 to $25 per month. Wow! The numbers are too many to send out individual thank you’s, so please forgive me for thanking you all with this one announcement.

 

The campaign however must go on, especially because I have added more regular features to my daily workload. In addition to my daily never-ending reporting on space exploration and science, my regular launch reports, my monthly sunspot updates, the regular cool images, and the evening pauses I post each evening, I have now added a daily weekday post I have entitled "Today's blacklisted American." Its goal is not to discuss policy or politics, but to note the endless examples occurring across the United States where some jack-booted thug or thugs think it is proper and acceptable to censor, blackball, cancel, and destroy an innocent American, merely because that American has expressed or holds an opinion or is of a race or religion that is no longer considered acceptable to the dominant leftist and bigoted culture. I want to make clear to every American that a large number of your fellow citizens no longer believe in the enlightened concept of freedom of speech or the idea of treating each person by the quality of their character.

 

Instead, they wish to shut you up, and oppress you if you happen to disagree with them or have the wrong skin color. This evil must be exposed.

 

To continue to do this into the foreseeable future however I need your support. If you are one of those millions who read Behind the Black each month, please consider donating or subscribing. Regular readers can support Behind The Black with a contribution via paypal:

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Mysterious signal detected possibly coming from Proxima Centauri

The uncertainty of science: Breakthough Listen, the project funded to the tune of $100 million by billionaire Yuri Milner with the goal of listening for alien radio signals, in 2019 detected a single radio tone that appeared to be coming from the nearest star, Proxima Centauri.

A team had been using the Parkes radio telescope in Australia to study Proxima Centauri for signs of flares coming from the red dwarf star, in part to understand how such flares might affect Proxima’s planets. The system hosts at least two worlds. The first, dubbed Proxima b upon its discovery in 2016, is about 1.2 times the size of Earth and in an 11-day orbit. Proxima b resides in the star’s “habitable zone,” a hazily defined sector in which liquid water could exist upon a rocky planet’s surface—provided, that is, Proxima Centauri’s intense stellar flares have not sputtered away a world’s atmosphere. Another planet, the roughly seven-Earth-mass Proxima c, was discovered in 2019 in a frigid 5.2-year orbit.

Using Parkes, the astronomers had observed the star for 26 hours as part of their stellar-flare study, but, as is routine within the Breakthrough Listen project, they also flagged the resulting data for a later look to seek out any candidate SETI signals. The task fell to a young intern in Siemion’s SETI program at Berkeley, Shane Smith, who is also a teaching assistant at Hillsdale College in Michigan. Smith began sifting through the data in June of this year, but it was not until late October that he stumbled upon the curious narrowband emission, needle-sharp at 982.002 megahertz, hidden in plain view in the Proxima Centauri observations. From there, things happened fast—with good reason. “It’s the most exciting signal that we’ve found in the Breakthrough Listen project, because we haven’t had a signal jump through this many of our filters before,” says Sofia Sheikh from Penn State University, who helmed the subsequent analysis of the signal for Breakthrough Listen and is the lead author on an upcoming paper detailing that work, which will be published in early 2021. Soon, the team began calling the signal by a more formal name: BLC1, for “Breakthrough Listen Candidate 1.”

The data so far does not suggest this signal was produced by an alien technology. Instead, it likely is a spurious signal from some natural or human source, picked up by accident, as was the SETI “Wow” signal that for years puzzled astronomers until they traced it to a comet.

However, as they do not yet have an explanation, it is a mystery of some importance.

Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

 
Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

 
The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.


He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

 
Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit.
 

5 comments

  • Jay

    982 MHz is in the aeronautical radio navigation range of the spectrum. They might of picked up a beacon or plane.

    I would be interested to know how they filter out the man made noise. I know the weak signal processing that Dr.Taylor did at the late Arecibo observatory with pulsars, but I wonder what algorithms SETI uses to sift through the signals.

  • John

    A tone like that can mean only one thing. It’s a warning beacon.

    I wish they would have put the observation details in one spot in the article, but they say or imply observations for 30 minutes at a time for 26 hours total with ‘nodding’ in between. That’s interesting if the signal only showed up when pointed at proxima at widely separate times. Too bad nothing else has seen it, assuming they’ve been looking since 2019.

    They’re probably right, not from intelligence, just humans.

  • LocalFluff

    @Jay
    If it comes from an orbiting satellite, not geosynchronized, it should doppler shift its frequency as it passes by. Only not so much if the telescope’s field of view pointed perpendicularly to its orbit. But even then it should’ve passed through the field of view within a minute or a few. That’s at least as I understand it from orbital periods. And it could’ve been a stationary source on the ground.

  • Mike Murphy

    Bob,

    The connection between the Wow signal and a cometary source is still controversial. The Wow signal appeared in only one of the two sets of horns at the feed of the Big Ear radio telescope, so a source like a comet with its continuous “broadcast” of radio noise should have been recorded when the source drifted through the second set of horns. The sudden cut off of the signal adds to the mystery of the Wow signal, and reduces the chances that it originated from a comet.

    Mike

  • Jay

    LocalFluff,
    You are correct. Also the satellite that you speak of might have had a highly elliptical orbit. The Russians still use them and so do the XM satellites, called “Tundra” orbits. Something to throw out there.
    The thing that get me is the almost dead to rights 982.00 MHz signal. I saw someone post that the frequency is the TACAN (Tactical Air Navigation) Channel 21X here in the U.S.A. I do not know if this channel is also used in Australia.

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