While humanity has advanced significantly in the short time it has existed on Earth, the planet is, for all intents and purposes, still invisible, at least to potential advanced civilizations that are also looking for life in the cosmos. If an intelligent civilization were to look in Earth’s direction, they would likely see very little evidence that humans exist or have existed. According to a new paper, however, this could change with the buildout of Elon Musk’s Starlink, which could very well become Earth’s first “megastructure.”
The paper–titled “From the SpaceX Starlink megaconstellation to the search for Type-I civilizations” and written by Zaza Osmanov, a professor in astrophysics at the Free University of Tbilisi, Georgia–notes that Starlink’s massive size could give Earth its first “techno-signature” that’s actually visible from deep space.
A techno-signature is evidence for the use of technology or industrial activity in other parts of the Universe, which could be a good way to confirm the presence of an advanced civilization.
As noted by Osmanov, instruments like the Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile and China’s FAST radio telescope already have enough technology to locate megastructures like Starlink in deep space. The professor notes that since Earth’s advanced interferometers are able to detect this activity from other planets today, any other civilization with comparable or better tech would likely be able to do the same, and potentially find Earth in the process.