I am excited to report that my article, “A call for proactive xenoarchaeological guidelines – Scientific, policy and socio-political considerations,” has been published online by the journal Space Policy as an in-press corrected proof as it awaits publication in an upcoming issue. (I mentioned working on it previously in a post here.)
The thrust of the paper is that when you consider the galactic timescales and hazards we know to be in play against the evolution of alien life, we’re likely to discover evidence of life before we discover astrobiology itself. Further, it’s only a matter of time before we identify suspected material evidence of astrobiological activity. -And regardless of whether or not it turns out to be a real find, we should be prepared to investigate and evaluate it will the scientific rigor deserving of an actual find, with the foresight to successfully manage information verification and public dissemination.
The paper is a stab at highlighting the applicable scientific protocols, planetary pitfalls, and social snags a xenoarchaeological investigation might face in the hopes of stimulating discussion toward the development of a fully-fledged field of study.
Here’s to making it one step closer (academically, anyway) to the stars. Feedback welcome.
UPDATE 11/2010: The article has been officially published in Space Policy Volume 26, Issue 4, November 2010, Pages 209-213.