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Life in the Universe

Could humans be the only intelligent beings in all the vastness of the universe? Or are we just one humble race, a member of a vast intergalactic fraternity of advanced civilizations? SETI, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, is the scientific quest to answer these great unknowns. As of now all we have are questions, but we know the answers, when they come, could transform our world. Since the day it was formed in 1980, The Planetary Society has been there to support the search.

And what about other life? Is there -- or was there ever -- anything else alive in our solar system? Did microbes once spring to life in oases on early Mars, or around the undersea volcanic vents of Europa or Enceladus?  Could life have originated on Mars and been transported to Earth? We've never detected evidence for anything living elsewhere than our own fragile planet. Are we alone?

Europa: No Longer a "Should," But a "Must"

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2013/12/12 07:51 CST | 10 comments

We've waited long enough, Europa cries out for exploration and discovery. It's time to heed that cry.

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Cosmos with Cosmos Episode 5: Blues for a Red Planet

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2013/11/12 02:24 CST | 12 comments

Episode 5 focuses on Mars, the planet that has stubbornly refused to conform to the wishes of humanity for hundreds of years, from Lowell to Sagan. Grab your cosmo and join our discussion of 'Blues for a Red Planet.'

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Planetary Radio: Looking for Intelligence in a Flash

Posted by Mat Kaplan on 2013/11/05 10:58 CST | 1 comment

An update on the Planetary Society's improved Optical SETI search, with Harvard's Paul Horowitz and Curtis Mead.

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Cosmos with Cosmos Episode 2: One Voice in the Cosmic Fugue

Posted by Casey Dreier on 2013/10/21 09:41 CDT | 16 comments

In episode 2 we switch from cosmos to microcosm and discover how we are connected to all living things. Is Sagan too authoritative in this episode? Plus, a major error in one of the stories.

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Your Name...On Its Way to the Stars?

Posted by Mat Kaplan on 2013/10/08 07:29 CDT

This week's Planetary Radio features artist Jon Lomberg inviting listeners to join the New Horizons Message Initiative.

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Our Improved Optical Search for ET

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2013/10/08 11:15 CDT

The Planetary Society Optical SETI (OSETI) Telescope was successfully upgraded and fully tested, and is now fully operational looking for aliens. Here are some updates on the performance and progress. In summary, the upgraded telescope is performing just as hoped and is scanning the skies.

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The "Starship Century" Beckons

Posted by Mat Kaplan on 2013/10/01 10:30 CDT

The Benford brothers provide inspiration and hard fact in their excellent new anthology about interstellar travel.

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Movie SciFi With Real Science? What a Concept!

Posted by Mat Kaplan on 2013/07/30 10:14 CDT | 1 comment

This week's Planetary Radio features the new indy film that relies on the best available science to create a thrilling and inspiring human mission to Jupiter's moon.

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Astronomy Enters a New Era

Posted by Mat Kaplan on 2013/05/26 08:45 CDT | 3 comments

A live conversation about just a few of the powerful new instruments that will revolutionize our knowledge of the cosmos once again.

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Optical SETI Gets a Major Upgrade

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2012/08/30 03:57 CDT | 5 comments

The Planetary Society Optical SETI Telescope in Harvard, Massachusetts just got a major upgrade of its electronics. The telescope, which has been operating the only all-sky optical SETI survey since its opening in 2006, is run by Harvard University Professor Paul Horowitz and his team. The telescope scans the sky every clear night with a 72-inch primary mirror, looking for laser pulses as short as one billionth of a second that could be transmitted by distant extraterrestrials. When observing, it has been able to process 1 terabit (trillion bits) of data every second, that’s as much as in all the books in print every second.

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