SETI resumes at Allen Telescope Array

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The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) has resumed at the Allen Telescope Array in northern California. The ATA was in hibernation for months due to a lack of funding. But new cash came in from the public (yay, public support of science!) and also the US Air Force "as part of a formal assessment of the instrument’s utility for Space Situational Awareness." Exoplanet candidates found via NASA's Kepler space telescope will be one focus of the resumed effort. From the SETI Institute:

“This is a superb opportunity for SETI observations,” said Jill Tarter, the Director of the Center for SETI Research at the SETI Institute. “For the first time, we can point our telescopes at stars, and know that those stars actually host planetary systems – including at least one that begins to approximate an Earth analog in the habitable zone around its host star. That’s the type of world that might be home to a civilization capable of building radio transmitters…"

“Kepler’s success has created an amazing opportunity to focus SETI research. While discovery of new exoplanets via Kepler is backed with government monies, the search for evidence that some of these worlds might be home to intelligence falls to SETI alone. And our SETI exploration depends entirely on private donations, for which we are deeply grateful to our donors,” notes Tarter.

"SETI Search Resumes at Allen Telescope Array, Targeting New Planets"


  1. I thought that the more recent thinking about SETI communication was going to be that it would probably be along the lines of lasers, given that the time frame when any given civilization would be using radio to communicate would be a relatively narrow one? Still, anything SETI related is good news in my book.

  2. “…because unless you transmit that specific code word on that specific frequency, we’ll assume you have no objection to us using your planet for target practice. Thank you for your attention, Earthlings. Message will not repeat.”

  3. part of a formal assessment of the instrument’s utility for Space Situational Awareness

    Are you guys planning on using this as some sort of giant death ray? You are planning on using this as some sort of giant death ray, aren’t you.

  4. “SETI Search resumes”  right after the head scientist finishes putting his PIN number into the ATM machine…

    (pedantry directed at the original headline–Pescovitz got it right)

  5. Is SETI really science?  They obviously use the tools of radio astronomy but they’re not using them to do astronomy.  The closest thing they have to a theory is some really dubious assumptions about the likelihood of extraterrestrial intelligent life and the preferred modes of communication of such life — and none of it’s falsifiable.

    Even supposing SETI was on the right track it would be a bad thing.  Any aliens willing to come all the way out here aren’t coming for tea.  ID4 is (unfortunately) the most realistic visitation scenario IMHO.

    1. On the other hand, never bothering to check whether there is a village in the valley next to your own doesn’t seem like a successful long-term survival strategy, either.

      1. Bad analogy.  We’re not talking about two villages with comparable technologies in adjacent valleys.  We’re talking about technology so much more advanced than ours that we can’t even comprehend it.  A more reasonable analogy is to compare us to rodents and compare aliens to humans on Trident class submarines.  Submarines with nuclear warheads certainly pose an existential threat to rodents, but the long-term survival of rodents would not be any more likely if they started trying to keep tabs on the U.S. Navy.

        1. I don’t want to frighten you unduly, but unless your terror is of the Bugblatter Beast of Traal, putting your hand over your own eyes is not an effective means of hiding.

  6. More of this sort of thing and dramatically increased investment in Spaceguard might contribute to something that resembles a sane space-policy.
    Now, where did I put my space-champagne?

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