Help Shape the Future of Space Exploration

Join The Planetary Society Now Join Now!

Join our eNewsletter for updates & action alerts

   Please leave this field empty
Blogs

Amir Alexander

Reobservations Report No. 4: Results in Real Time

Posted by Amir Alexander

17-03-2003 11:00 CST

Topics: Planetary Society Projects, Planetary Society, SETI

SETI@home scientists will have to wait for several weeks for the full analysis of the data collected during the reobservations (see Reobservations Report no. 2). But even while the observations are going on at Arecibo, they will already have a good idea if they have found something significant.

This is thanks to SERENDIP IV - the 168 million channel SETI spectrometer that piggy-backs on the Arecibo radio telescope throughout the year. As the giant dish scans the skies during the reobservations from March 18th through the 20th, SERENDIP IV will be processing the data in real time and telling to Dan Werthimer and his team if they are onto something interesting. These "real time" results will also help the SETI@home crew direct the reobservations more effectively. If a certain candidate signal seems particularly promising, they may decide to spend some extra time on it even at the expense of other candidates lower down on the priority scale.

SERENDIP IV has been operating at Arecibo since June of 1997, when it replaced the earlier 4 million channel spectrometer SERENDIP III. Like SETI@home, during most of the year it gathers its data from the SETI receiver at the base of the line feed. During the reobservations, however, it will be analyzing the data collected by the L Band receiver located in the Gregorian dome. That is the receiver that will be used by SETI@home scientists to revisit their most promising candidates.

In some ways, the SERENDIP IV search closely resembles SETI@home. Both projects look for signals near the hydrogen line at 1420 MHz, though SETI@home's unlimited computing power allows for a more sensitive analysis than is possible with SERENDIP. SERENDIP, however, scans a far wider frequency band around the hydrogen line - 100 MHz as against a mere 2.5 MHz for SETI@home. In fact, since both projects use the same receiver at Arecibo, the SETI@home data is simply the middle 2.5 MHz of the 100 MHz band analyzed by SERENDIP.

Unlike SETI@home, SERENDIP IV does not record the raw data collected by the Arecibo receiver. Instead, it processes it quickly by breaking it down to 168 million channels, each only 0.6 Hertz wide. Only significant radio pulses that rise substantially above the natural background noise of the spectrum are registered and referred for further analysis.

This makes SERENDIP IV ideally suited for real time analysis during the reobservations. While detailed analysis of the data will have to wait, SERENDIP IV will be on the spot, telling SETI scientists if they are onto something. If a true alien signal is out there among the 200 candidates, SERENDIP IV will most likely be the first to know about it.

 
See other posts from March 2003

 

Or read more blog entries about: Planetary Society Projects, Planetary Society, SETI

Comments:

Leave a Comment:

You must be logged in to submit a comment. Log in now.
Facebook Twitter Email RSS AddThis

Blog Search

JOIN THE
PLANETARY SOCIETY

Our Curiosity Knows No Bounds!

Become a member of The Planetary Society and together we will create the future of space exploration.

Join Us

Featured Images

South Georgia island

ATV-5 and a waning moon
Moscow at night
Squished supermoon
More Images

Featured Video

View Larger »

Fly to an Asteroid!

Travel to Bennu on the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft!

Send your name

Join the New Millennium Committee

Let’s invent the future together!

Become a Member

Connect With Us

Facebook! Twitter! Google+ and more…
Continue the conversation with our online community!