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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?

From SETI@home to Hominid Fossils: Citizen Cyberscience Reshapes Research Landscape

Posted by Amir Alexander on 2008/01/15 11:00 CST | 1 comments

In the beginning was SETI@home, the first large-scale volunteer computing project, launched in 1999 with seed money from The Planetary Society. Within months the project had millions of volunteers around the world joining to form the most powerful computer network ever assembled.

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Planetary System Detected Around SETI@home Target Star

Posted by Amir Alexander on 2007/11/08 11:00 CST

A fully formed planetary system, with five different planets of varying sizes and orbits has been found, orbiting a star more than 40 light years away. Significantly, it is the very same star, 55 Cancri, that was one of the chief targets of the SETI@home reobservations at Arecibo in March 2003.

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Planetary Society's Optical SETI Telescope Offers Online View of Night sky

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2007/10/30 12:00 CDT

The Planetary Society's Optical SETI Telescope was built solely to search for possible light signals from alien civilizations. Located at Oak Ridge Observatory in Harvard, Massachusetts, it is the first dedicated Optical SETI telescope in the world. Its 72-inch primary mirror also makes it larger than any optical telescope in the U.S. east of the Mississippi river.

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Keeping an Ear to the Center of the Galaxy, Southern SETI Prepares for Great Leap Forward

Posted by Amir Alexander on 2007/02/26 11:00 CST

Located in the southern part of the continent of South America, Southern SETI has a continuous view of densest star-fields in our galaxy. And, since 1990, it has been sponsored and supported by The Planetary Society.

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With Observations in Full Swing, Team Prepares to Remove "Sunglasses" from Telescope

Posted by Amir Alexander on 2007/02/26 11:00 CST

Winter time is observing time at the Oak Ridge Observatory in Massachusetts, when humidity is low and the sky is often clear. And so it has been for the Optical SETI telescope, which opened its doors in April 2006.

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Telescope Goes "Semi-Automatic"

Posted by Andrew Howard on 2006/10/20 12:00 CDT

Andrew Howard talks about the "semi-automated" nature of the observations from the Optical SETI telescope.

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With Multi-Beam Receiver, SETI@home Takes Giant Step Forward

Posted by Amir Alexander on 2006/08/14 12:00 CDT

In seven intense days spent at the radio telescope Chief scientist Dan Werthimer and his colleagues completely overhauled the way SETI data is gathered at Arecibo, and ensured that SETI@home will henceforth enjoy the benefits of gathering data with the most advanced equipment anywhere in the world.

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Telescope shows its Amazing Capabilities

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2006/07/11 12:00 CDT

During a few observation sessions in late April, the new Optical SETI Telescope was already demonstrating its amazing capabilities. Over three nights, the telescope completed 17 hours of observation, under the direction of Paul Horowitz and his team of Harvard graduate students. During that time, the telescope observed 1% of the sky, looking for the briefest flashes of light coming from outer space.

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