SETI launches SETILive.org to empower citizen scientists

Feb 29, 2012

As part of the TED Prize Wish made by renowned astronomer Jill Tarter, the TED Prize today launches SETI Live (setilive.org): a site where – for the first time – the public can view data being collected by radio telescopes and collectively help search for intelligent life on other planets.

TED, the nonprofit dedicated to Ideas Worth Spreading, established the TED Prize in 2005, born out of a vision by the world's leading entrepreneurs, innovators, and entertainers to turn ideas into action one Wish at a time. SETI Live was created in collaboration with Zooniverseteam at Chicago’s Adler Planetarium and is the latest development of Dr. Tarter’s 2009 TED Prize wish, “to empower Earthlings everywhere to become active participants in the ultimate search for cosmic company.”

The launch of SETI Live opens the door for anyone to help search for intelligent life on other planets. For the first time ever, data being received by the Allen Telescope Array in Hat Creek, CA will be made public so citizen scientists can scan it for potential signals.

“Three years ago, Dr. Tarter stood on the TED stage and asked us all to unite in the search for life on other planets. The TED community responded by dreaming big and working hard – with many milestones to show for it,” said TED Prize Director Amy Novogratz. “This landmark step empowers people around the globe to meaningfully contribute to this important scientific endeavor and work towards answering the ultimate question, ‘are we alone?’”

Dr. Tarter, Director of the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute’s Center for SETI Research, has devoted her career to hunting for signs of sentient beings elsewhere. SETI Live will further her Wish and build upon the community of scientists and technologists already involved in the search.

“There are frequencies that our automated signal detection systems now ignore, because there are too many signals there. Most are created by Earth’s communication and entertainment technologies, but buried within this noise, there may be a signal from a distant technology,” said Dr. Tarter. “I’m hoping that an army of volunteers can help us deal with these crowded frequency bands that confuse our machines. By doing this in real-time, we will have an opportunity to follow up immediately on what our volunteers discover.”

Zooniverse is home to the internet's largest and most successful citizen science projects, including Galaxy Zoo. SETI Live is its newest venture.

“Over the last few years, we have learned about the incredible desire of hundreds of thousands of people to take part in scientific research as they’ve used Zooniverse to classify galaxies, explore the Moon and even to discover planets,” said Chris Lintott, Zooniverse Principal Investigator. “With SETIlive.org, we’re very excited to be inviting them on this grandest of adventures.”

On the heels of the launch of SETI Live, SCIENCE has partnered with TED and SETI by designing a call-to-action programming campaign, dedicating the month of March to answering this most indelible question, “Are We Alone?” Four world premiere programs including Morgan Freeman’s Through the Wormhole, Alien Encounters and NASA’s Unexplained Files will premiere every Tuesday, beginning March 6 throughout the month. Each special world premiere will drive viewers to the SETI Live site and empower citizen scientists everywhere to unite towards a common goal.

“Partnering with and the Institute has been such a great initiative for SCIENCE. With ARE WE ALONE? we want to draw viewers with smart, lean-forward programming and empower them to uncover evidence of extraterrestrial life,” said Debbie Adler Myers, General Manager and Executive Vice President at SCIENCE. “At SCIENCE we question everything and no topic inspires more questions than the existence of extraterrestrial intelligence so we are proud to join the search.”

Explore further: Curiosity brushes 'Bonanza king' target anticipating fourth red planet rock drilling

More information: www.setilive.org/

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