At the core of our explorations is the quest to know if life exists beyond Earth. The Planetary Society is a leader in the search for life on other worlds, whether intelligent or microbial. Our active projects: SETI Optical Telescope - Looking for laser signals beamed across the vastness of space. SETI Radio Searches - Huge radio dishes sift through nature's random noise for beacons from other civilizations.
In the beginning was SETI@home, the first large-scale volunteer computing project, launched in 1999 with seed money from The Planetary Society. Within months the project had millions of volunteers around the world joining to form the most powerful computer network ever assembled.
The Planetary Society's Optical SETI Telescope was built solely to search for possible light signals from alien civilizations. Located at Oak Ridge Observatory in Harvard, Massachusetts, it is the first dedicated Optical SETI telescope in the world. Its 72-inch primary mirror also makes it larger than any optical telescope in the U.S. east of the Mississippi river.
During a few observation sessions in late April, the new Optical SETI Telescope was already demonstrating its amazing capabilities. Over three nights, the telescope completed 17 hours of observation, under the direction of Paul Horowitz and his team of Harvard graduate students. During that time, the telescope observed 1% of the sky, looking for the briefest flashes of light coming from outer space.
On April 11, 2006, a new era dawned in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) with the dedication and beginning of operations of The Planetary Society Optical SETI Telescope in Harvard, Massachusetts. It is the first devoted optical SETI telescope in the world. The telescope was constructed by Paul Horowitz and his group at Harvard University using funding from Planetary Society members.