Online volunteers could help find alien artifacts on the moon

Posted by Emma Woollacott

Two Arizona State University scientists are calling for a thorough scan of images of the moon to try and identify signs of aliens.

In a paper, Paul Davis and Robert Wagner suggest checking through the 340,000 images from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, which show the moon's surface at a resolution of just half a meter.

While it's pretty unlikely that there are any signs of extra-terrestrial intelligence lying around on the moon, they say, it's so easy to check that it's got to be worth a try.

"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," they say.

Any artifacts left lying about could easily be preserved for millions of years, especially if they were in a sheltered spot like the entrance to a lava tube. With the moon so inactive, it could take hundreds of millions of years for a truck-sized object to be covered with dust.

By the time the LRO has finished mapping the entire lunar surface, the database will consist of over a million images - far too many for a small team. One way round this, Davis and Wagner suggest, is to create software that could search for unusual features such as straight lines.

Alternatively, it would make a perfect crowd-sourcing project - although it would almost certainly bring the green ink brigade out in force. It would be an excellent educational project, they say.

As for what we might hope to find, Davis and Wagner aren't picky. While a deliberate message would be nice, they say, a pile of trash would do just fine.