[email protected] Completes Stellar Countdown

For Immediate Release
March 25, 2003

Mat Kaplan
Email: [email protected]
Phone: +1-626-793-5100

The [email protected] 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 [email protected], which is based at the University of California, Berkeley. [email protected] harnesses the computing power of four million volunteers to analyze data from the Arecibo telescope. Designed as an innovative screensaver program, [email protected] 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 [email protected] volunteers for more help with this early but critical step in our continuing search for extraterrestrial intelligence."

The final tally of sources observed during [email protected]'s Stellar Countdown:

  • [email protected] 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

[email protected]'s re-observations got underway on March 18 at Arecibo under the direction of Dan Werthimer, Chief Scientist of [email protected] 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.

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.