May 10, 2010

SETI and Kepler-4b

For some curious post to warm up a chilly monday, I just came across a surprising analysis of Kepler-4b signals not from planet-hunters, but from someone tinkering with SETI! There seems to be a "non-random" pattern that shows up in the graph. Could it be a clue to some alien message encoded within the signal?
Not too fast.
Apparently, someone who "likes analyzing signals" posted his baudline analysis of the Kepler-4 exoplanet data file from SETIquest. I'm just starting to dip my foot into Digital Signal Processing (DSP) here, but because I am interested in Data Visualization, I was drawn into it, which led me to write this quick post with lots of linktrails.
For the big question: Is there an alien message in the signal? No. There are still too many parameters to settle in order to say that it is an extraterrestrial code. But I wish to get back more into this as I am interested in finding patterns. The "spinal" pattern in the photo above seems like a good start for learning about Fast Fourier Transforms!
I downloaded the 2 Gig .dat file from SETIquest and tried to open it just to peek, but my computer almost crashed due to the humongous filesize. I wish they'd break it down into smaller bits. I'm sure SETIquest will improve in the coming days.
Many questions pop up as a result of this baudline analysis post, such as the directional source of the signal. According to the forum at SETIquest, its really from the Kepler-4 star system (but I still need a valid RA/Dec info, which was not provided in the .dat file description). Other issues need a little more work to confirm, such as whether it might have been our own artificial signals, which may include transmissions from our satellites and perhaps even signals from the Kepler telescope itself(!) Also, I think it would be great if the Allen Telescope Array will listen in on the list of star systems with known exoplanets.
There's some interesting bits of information regarding signal analysis, and bits about Kepler telescope, and some exoplanet related data files posted in the forum so check it out.
Kepler-4b is among the first batch of exoplanet discoveries announced by Kepler early this year. The host star Kepler-4 is also one of my adopted stars (ahem!) from the Pale Blue Dot project, so i took some time to look into this.
And as I mentioned in my past post about SETIquest with a quick review of His Master's Voice by Stanislaw Lem (that book was lent to me by @leebillings, by the way) the data is open for public consumption. So we can consider this post as a preview of things to come between the intersections of Planetary Science, Astronomy, SETI, Exoarchaeology(?), Citizen Science, and just plain ol' geekiness.