Arizona State University scientist Paul Davies and research technician Robert Wagner propose a sort of "why not" project in search of proof for extraterrestrial civilizations:
In Acta Astronautica, an online scientific journal, they suggest inspecting new, close-up photos of Earth's moon for signs of a visit by aliens, because artifacts on the airless surface would be preserved for hundreds of millions of years. Their article was published in October, but has gained the attention of online news sites since being noticed over the weekend by the U.K.'s Guardian.
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"In this paper we take as a case study one particular new and rapidly-expanding database: the photographic mapping of the Moon's surface by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) to 0.5 m resolution," they write. "Although there is only a tiny probability that alien technology would have left traces on the moon in the form of an artifact or surface modification of lunar features, this location has the virtue of being close, and of preserving traces for an immense duration."
Davies runs ASU's BEYOND Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science.
The pair would like to see hundreds of thousands of photos scoured for anything that looks -- well, man-made obviously isn't the right phrase.
NASA won't need to rob money from its next-generation spaceship to look for little green men. Davies and Wagner say the photos could be scrutinized with computer software or by legions of computer users.