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Press Room

SETI@home Begins Distributing Data from Stellar Countdown

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
06/03/2003

CONTACT:
Mat Kaplan
Email: mat.kaplan@planetary.org
Phone: +1-626-793-5100

The SETI@home team has begun distributing new data from the recent Stellar Countdown that targeted possible signals from extraterrestrial civilizations. The Stellar Countdown run at the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico re-observed 216 promising radio sources identified by SETI@home as potential candidates for hypothetical extraterrestrial intelligent signals.

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 radio telescope. Designed as an innovative screensaver program, SETI@home sends packets of raw data to be processed in the personal computers of volunteers around the world.

While the team discovered no evidence of a signal from an extraterrestrial civilization during a quick, real-time analysis at Arecibo, they are now ready to divide the data into work units that will be analyzed in more detail by computers around the world in the homes and offices of SETI@home participants.

"Our SETI@home team collected the data, and now the public will help analyze it," said Louis Friedman, Executive Director of The Planetary Society. "That hands-on public participation in an exciting scientific project is what makes this program unique."

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 in May 1999. Dan Werthimer, Chief Scientist of SETI@home, led the team at Arecibo, which observed candidate radio sources from SETI@home as well as at extrasolar planetary systems, nearby sun-like stars, and nearby galaxies.

"This is the start of a new phase of SETI@home,î says SETI@home Project Director David Anderson. "The data gives us our best chance so far of finding ET."

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.

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About The Planetary Society

The Planetary Society has inspired millions of people to explore other worlds and seek other life. With the mission to empower the world's citizens to advance space science and exploration, its international membership makes the non-governmental Planetary Society the largest space interest group in the world. Carl Sagan, Bruce Murray and Louis Friedman founded The Planetary Society in 1980. Bill Nye, a longtime member of The Planetary Society's Board, serves as CEO.