Home Tech Gadgets ‘ExoCube’ Kickstarter Wants Your Help In The Search For Alien Life

‘ExoCube’ Kickstarter Wants Your Help In The Search For Alien Life

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A team of astronomers needs your help with the hunt for alien life, and they’re offering some pretty cool exoplanet swag in return.

The PLANETS Foundation is building a telescope that will search for life outside the solar system, and the foundation launched a Kickstarter campaign to help fund its efforts. Donors to the campaign will receive a unique laser-engraved 3D glass map of nearby exoplanets called the ExoCube.

Along with the ExoCube, the campaign is offering 25 different types of mineral spheres that represent potentially habitable planets, including Proxima b and TRAPPIST-1f.

With the ExoCube-LED option, you can even turn your ExoCube into a little interstellar rave. The added LED light cycles through a series of colors, adding flair to the sculpture while illuminating the details of the engravings inside.

The Kickstarter campaign will end Monday (May 22), so get your ExoCube while you still can. But don’t worry if you miss your chance to get your hands on one of them now. There will be similar Kickstarters in the future, Kevin Lewis, a member of the campaign, told Space.com. “We are currently working on new incarnations of the ExoCube as well as creating brand-new astronomy and exoplanet-related products,” he said.

Proceeds from this campaign will help the PLANETS Foundation develop new technologies to search for alien life, including the new PLANETS Polarized Light from Atmospheres of Nearby ExtraTerrestrial Systems telescope that is currently under construction on Haleakala, a volcano on the island of Maui, Hawaii.

Specially designed to search for life outside the solar system, the PLANETS telescope will examine exoplanet atmospheres and biosignatures – chemicals or compounds that life could produce, such as oxygen, water and methane.

The telescope is scheduled to be completed in 2019 and will cost a total of $4 million to build. So far, the group has raised $3.5 million through research grants, and the remaining $500,000 “will most likely come in the form of additional research grants plus public support like this Kickstarter,”

“This discovery could be a significant piece in the puzzle of finding habitable environments, places that are conducive to life,” said the associate administrator of the agency’s science mission directorate, Thomas Zurbuchen.

Now, astronomers at the Planet Foundation want your help observing nearby exoplanets in search of life, seeking support via a Kickstarter campaign launched this week. They’re building a series of telescopes 10,000 feet up on the Hawaiian island of Maui.

“We’re trying to take this academic endeavor of finding signs of life on nearby exoplanets and open it up to the general public,” Kevin Lewis, who works on the campaign, told Digital Trends.

Split into three phases — each set to expand the telescope a bit more than the last — the PLANETS polarized light from atmospheres of nearby extraterrestrial systems Telescopes are specifically designed for observing exoplanets with features like advanced polishing and ultrathin mirrors.

These technologies make the PLANETS telescopes unique by reducing glare from stars and making the features of the exoplanets — including bio-signatures, geological formations, and maybe even technological signals more visible, according to the campaign.

“We’ve spent all of our scientific history trying to understand what our place in the universe is,” said Jeff Kuhn, a board member for the PLANETS Foundation. “The reason for doing science is perspective — to know how big the universe is … We can’t think of any question more important than discovering that, in fact, we’re not the only civilization or we’re not the only form of life in the universe.”

Recognizing that many people offer support in exchange for a reward, the PLANETS Telescope team have developed the ExoCube, a 3D map of our neighboring exoplanets adorned by a sphere representing one of these celestial bodies.

The maps and spheres are available on Kickstarter for pledges of $140. With a month left to go, the campaign has earned over $18,650 toward its $20,000 goal.

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