With the mission surrounded by much excitement, NASA's space telescope ventured to detect signs of intelligent life from the star KIC 8462852. Unfortunately, no signal is picked up after first pass.
The star - also known as Tabby's star - drew attention last October when it showed proof of periodic dimming by 20 percent or more. Theory had it that the unusual dimming could be caused by alien megastructures orbiting around the star.
Examples of large-scale astroengineering ventures such as this one could be a Dyson swarm of solar panels for harnessing wide-scale energy, as well as artificial space habitats and planet-size occulting objects for offering stable signal to other galactic residents.
Researchers at the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute in Mountain View, California, then aimed their Allen Telescope Array (ATA) for any extraterrestrial activity - no radio signal of which was received, sadly.
The ATA, consisting of 42 six-meter radio antennae, was aimed at the star for two weeks and tuned in to two specific radio signals: a narrow-band 1 Hz bandwidth as a "hailing signal" or alien life announcing its presence, and broad-band signals signifying presence through leaking beamed propulsion in the star system.
According to SETI's Nov. 5 statement, data analysis showed no clear proof of either signal types between frequencies 1 and 10 GHz.
"This rules out omnidirectional transmitters of approximately 100 times today's total terrestrial energy usage in the case of the narrow-band signals, and ten million times that usage for broad band emissions," the statement read.
SETI Institute scientist Gerry Harp said this is the first time they used the ATA to seek relatively wide-band signals, a kind of emission generally not employed in SETI searches.
The findings did not totally rule out the occurrence of alien communications - only that they may be weaker than what SETI is currently able to detect, and that limitations such as the distance between Earth and Tabby's star exist.
The level of power needed to make the signal detectable, too, could be greatly reduced if civilizations around the star deliberately intended a message toward Earth's solar system. SETI added that microwave propulsion schemes would probably be broadcast toward the planet, further decreasing the level of required power.
What does it then take to build such advanced technology? According to the researchers, it's the capacity for accessing energy close to 1 octillian watts or 10 billion times a hundred billion.
SETI astronomer Seth Shostak added that based on the history of astronomy, humans were shown to be wrong every time they believed a phenomenon was caused by extraterrestrial activity. But it's worth going the extra mile to find out the answers.
"But although it's quite likely that this star's strange behavior is due to nature, not aliens, it's only prudent to check such things out," he said.
Not all hope is lost, though, as observations on Tabby's star will continue despite no radio signals being found in its direction so far.