The Very Large Array (VLA) telescope at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NARO) site in Socorro, New Mexico, will be used to constantly search for evidence of technosignatures.
A technosignature is a proxy for the existence of a technologically advanced extraterrestrial civilization, according to scientists at the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute in California.
These include the chemical composition of a planet’s atmosphere, laser emissions or structures in orbit around stars.
The VLA is a collection of 27 radio antennas - and one spare - that work together to act effectively like a huge single telescope.
Bill Diamond, President and CEO of the SETI Institute, said: “Access to the most sensitive radio telescope in the northern hemisphere for SETI observations is perhaps the most transformative opportunity to date in the history of SETI programs. "
Dr. Tony Beasley, director of NRAO, based in the US state of Virginia, said, "Determining whether we are alone in the universe as a technologically capable life is among the most compelling questions in science. "
He added: "As the VLA conducts its usual scientific observations, this new system will allow additional and important use of the data that we already collect.
"As continuous discoveries show us that planets are very common components of the universe, and we are able to study the characteristics of these planets, it is exciting to note that at the same time, technological advances are giving us the tools to significantly expand our search for signs. of life.
"We are also looking forward to the next decade, when we hope to build a very large new generation set, which will be able to search for a volume of the universe a thousand times greater than that accessible by current telescopes - which makes it the most a powerful radio search for technosignatures that humanity has never built. "
Scientists are also creating computer models to simulate extraterrestrial environments, helping to search for life beyond the solar system and planets that can support future searches for habitable planets and life beyond the solar system.
Victoria Meadows, principal investigator at NASA's Virtual Planetary Laboratory at the University of Washington, said, "Telescopes coming into space and on the ground will have the ability to observe the atmosphere of planets the size of. Earth orbiting nearby fresh stars, so it's important to understand the best way to recognize the signs of habitability and life on these planets.
"These computer models will help us determine whether an observed planet is more or less likely to support life. "
New developments come after Canadian-based astronomers detected radio signals from space which repeat at regular intervals.
The series of rapid radio bursts (FRBs) - short-lived radio wave pulses from all over the universe - were detected about once an hour for four days, then stopped, and restarted 12 days later.
FRBs are not in themselves unusual, but previous observations have shown that they are mainly issued at random.