The biggest reason that NASA—as well as other western space agencies—has not attempted a solar sail flight is that the cost of launching even a small spacecraft is so high that they are unwilling to carry out a mission with very modest goals.
As SETI@home has demonstrated, untold millions around the world are ready and eager to donate their computer time for the advancement of knowledge and the benefit of humankind. The story of distributed computing is only just beginning.
BOINC stands for the “Berkeley Online Infrastructure for Network Computing.” Its purpose is to spread the credo of distributed computing beyond SETI@home, by making it easy for researchers in all fields to launch their own projects, and tap into the enormous computing capacity of personal computers around the world.
It has been more than a year since the SETI@home crew spent a hectic week at Arecibo, pointing the giant radio telescope at some of SETI's most promising targets. Much of the data collected during the reobservations has since been repackaged as work units, and sent out to users around the world for analysis.
Update as of March 24, 2004
2003 was a good year with 50,779 asteroid astrometric observations submitted, including known NEOs and the discovery of a new Aten-class object, 2003 UY12. Based upon the volume of astrometric observations submitted, observatory code 683 was the world's eighth most productive asteroid astrometry station.
SETI@home and BOINC are gradually converging, and the benefits for both are substantial. While SETI@home enjoys the increased flexibility of the BOINC platform, it brings to BOINC something of inestimable value to a distributed computing project: millions of SETI@home users, willing to use their computers' processing power for the advancement of scientific research.
SETI@home chief scientist Dan Werthimer and his team went back to Arecibo to reobserve the most promising candidate signals detected by the project so far. Unlike most of the year, when SETI@home piggy-backs on the regular operations of the telescope, this time the Werthimer's crew had the full use of the resources of the giant dish.
SETI@home's Stellar Countdown has come to an end at the Arecibo Radio Observatory. All in all the Stellar countdown observed 227 promising locations in the sky. Within the next few weeks all the data collected and recorded will be processed by SETI@home users around to world.
After getting bumped off the telescope last week to make way for Solar flare observations, SETI@home Chief Scientist Dan Werthimer and his crew will spend 14 hours today observing the locations of SETI@home's most promising candidate signals, as well as a few other interesting locations.
SETI@home scientists will have to wait for several weeks for the full analysis of the data collected during the reobservations. But even while the observations are going on at Arecibo, they will already have a good idea if they have found something significant.
For three successive days SETI@home will have use of the giant Arecibo radio telescope to revisit the most promising candidate signals detected since the project was launched in 1999. SETI@home Chief Scientist Dan Werthimer and his team put together a list of the "best" 200 locations in the sky where promising candidates have previously been detected.
For the first time during the reobservations, Werthimer and his crew will have use of another recorder. This is Arecibo's "radar" recorder, built for those occasions when the giant dish is used as a radar, bouncing electromagnetic signals off planets, moons, and asteroids.
In the next few days, SETI@home Chief Scientist Dan Werthimer, along with team members Eric Korpela and Paul Demorest, will head down to Arecibo in Puerto Rico. There, at the site of the largest radio telescope in the world, they will begin a new chapter in the short history of the project: the reobservation of SETI@home's most promising candidate signals.
If we were to listen to radio transmissions from space, we should be able to hear the dying gasps of black holes. As it turns out, we are listening, or at least the SETI@home receiver is. Perched above the giant Arecibo dish, it is systematically surveying a large portion of the sky, listening to the signals coming from space.
Update as of March 20, 2001
I just wanted to express my appreciation again to The Planetary Society for the Shoemaker Grant. Apogee Instruments delivered the AP6Ep purchased with the grant on 9 March 2001. Critical mass on all of the other components associated with implementing the proposal was reached last week.