Jill Tarter

Jill Tarter’s Wish

“I wish that you would empower Earthlings everywhere to become active participants in the ultimate search for cosmic company.”

The Plan:

To assemble a group of engineers to advise on and create a system to facilitate mass collaboration over the web and incorporate innovative data processing methods, including the ability to input alternative search algorithms. The aim would be to tap into the power of open-source initiatives, to globalize the search for extra-terrestial intelligence and empower a new generation of SETI enthusiasts. We would back the launch of this new system with a major storytelling and awareness campaign whose goal is to inspire millions to participate.

Where We Are Now:

  • InfoSys provided pro bono software engineering time and talent to the SETI  to clean up, test and document the current code which is necessary before a robust, easy to build system for Open Source can be built.
  • GitHub is hosting all the repositories, development climate and activities.
  • Experts from the gaming, social networking, and citizen-scientist communities met to explore the opportunities and challenges of an application to engage volunteers in scanning and exploring SETI data .
  • Amazon offered S3 storage for 40 terabytes of data and 45K hours of EC2 processing per month to explore these data for 5 years.
  • An internal team was developed at SETI to spearhead the project.

The Continuing Needs:

  • Engineers with expertise in digital signal processing and in open-source initiatives
  • Cloud computing resources
  • DSP labs
  • Office space
  • Social networking expertise
  • Marketing and creative campaign help
  • Media Space
  • Massive outreach to grow the TeamSETI network
  • PR Communications Partner
  • A film production company to develop and distribute this story
  • Funding — for this project and for additional telescopes for the Allen Array.

About Jill Tarter

“‘Are we alone?’ Humans have been asking [this question] forever. The probability of success is difficult to estimate but if we never search the chance of success is zero.”

Astronomer Jill Tarter is Director of the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute’s Center for SETI Research, and also holder of the Bernard M. Oliver Chair for SETI. She has devoted her career to hunting for signs of sentient beings elsewhere, and almost all aspects of this field have been affected by her work.

Jill led for Project Phoenix, a decade-long SETI scrutiny of about 750 nearby star systems, using telescopes in Australia, West Virginia and Puerto Rico. While no clearly extraterrestrial signal was found, this project was the most comprehensive targeted search for artificially generated cosmic signals ever undertaken. Jill currently serves on the management board for the Allen Telescope Array, a massive new instrument that will eventually comprise 350 antennas, each 6 meters in diameter. This telescope will be able to enormously increase the speed, and the spectral range, of the hunt for signals from other distant technologies by orders of magnitude.

Jill is committed to the education of future citizens and scientists. Beyond her scientific leadership at NASA and the SETI Institute, Jill has been actively involved in developing curriculum for children. She was Principal Investigator for two curriculum development projects funded by NSF, NASA, and others. One project, the Life in the Universe series, created 6 science teaching guides for grades 3-9. The other project, Voyages Through Time, is an integrated high school science curriculum on the fundamental theme of evolution in six modules: Cosmic Evolution, Planetary Evolution, Origin of Life, Evolution of Life, Hominid Evolution and Evolution of Technology.