By Ian Randall For Mailonline
Published: 00:00 GMT, 15 February 2020 | Updated: 00:04 GMT, 15 February 2020
A survey of billions of stars in the Milky Way could have captured signs of intelligent life — and amateur astronomers are being encouraged to search for them.
Experts at the SETI Institute are developing state-of-the-art techniques to detect signatures from space that indicate the possibility of extraterrestrial life.
These so-called 'technosignatures' can range from the chemical composition of a planet's atmosphere, to laser emissions and structures orbiting other stars.
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A survey of billions of stars in the Milky Way could have captured signs of intelligent life — and amateur astronomers are being encouraged to search for them. Pictured, the Very Large Array
'Determining whether we are alone in the universe, as technologically capable life, is among the most compelling questions in science,' said Tony Beasley, director of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory telescope based in Virginia.
SETI scientists plan to develop a system that will 'piggyback' on the so-called Very Large Array (VLA) telescope based in Mexico to provide data for their technosignature search system.
'As the VLA conducts its usual scientific observations, this new system will allow for an additional and important use for the data we're already collecting,' Dr Beasley added.
Life forms, whether intelligent or not, should produce detectable indicators such as large amounts of oxygen, smaller amounts of methane and a variety of other chemicals, the experts said.
So, in addition, scientists are also developing computer models to simulate extraterrestrial environments that can help support future searches for habitable planets and life beyond the solar system.
'Upcoming telescopes in space and on the ground will have the capability to observe the atmospheres of Earth-sized planets orbiting nearby cool stars,' said NASA astronomer Victoria Meadows.
'So, it's important