The SETI@home team has completed a successful run at the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico re-observing promising radio sources in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. They collected data on 166 sources, exceeding their original goal of 150 candidates in this stellar countdown. Although the team discovered no evidence of a signal from an extraterrestrial civilization during a quick, real-time analysis of the data, they will take a more thorough look over the next several weeks.
The Planetary Society is the founding and principal sponsor of SETI@home, which is based at the University of California, Berkeley. SETI@home harnesses the computing power of four million volunteers to analyze data from the Arecibo telescope. Designed as an innovative screensaver program, SETI@home parcels out packets of raw data from Arecibo to be processed in the personal computers of volunteers around the world.
"The unique aspect of this project is that the public participates in real scientific analysis," said Bruce Betts, Director of Projects at The Planetary Society. "Millions of people around the world have helped get us to the point where we could identify potential targets and take a second look. Now the new data will go back to the SETI@home volunteers for more help with this early but critical step in our continuing search for extraterrestrial intelligence."
The final tally of sources observed during SETI@home's Stellar Countdown:
SETI@home candidates -- 166
extrasolar planetary systems (that might harbor earthlike planets) --5
nearby sun like stars -- 35
nearby galaxies -- 15
candidates from Serendip SETI search - 6
Seti@home's re-observations got underway on March 18 at Arecibo under the direction of Dan Werthimer, Chief Scientist of SETI@home. The initial run was interrupted by the need to use Arecibo's giant dish to observe a rare solar flare. On March 24 the team resumed observations and finished their run.
The candidates selected for re-observation were deemed the most interesting radio sources found out of the billions detected since the distributed computing project began to search for extraterrestrial intelligence in May 1999.
The Arecibo Observatory is a National Science Foundation facility that is part of the National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center, which is operated by Cornell University under a cooperative agreement with the NSF.