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 seven intense days spent at the radio telescope Chief scientist Dan Werthimer and his colleagues completely overhauled the way SETI data is gathered at Arecibo, and ensured that SETI@home will henceforth enjoy the benefits of gathering data with the most advanced equipment anywhere in the world.
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.
Planetary Society members truly have helped pioneer new techniques in the conduct of science. Our initial investment has returned amazing results that will continue to deliver benefits over years to come.
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.
Candidate signals sent in by users around the world will be quickly analyzed and compared to existing signals.
As SETI@home has demonstrated, untold millions around the world are ready and eager to donate their computer time for the advancement of knowledge and the benefit of humankind. The story of distributed computing is only just beginning.
BOINC stands for the “Berkeley Online Infrastructure for Network Computing.” Its purpose is to spread the credo of distributed computing beyond SETI@home, by making it easy for researchers in all fields to launch their own projects, and tap into the enormous computing capacity of personal computers around the world.
Faster and more regular sky surveys, at an increased sensitivity and broader bandwidth, will push the boundaries of SETI to new and unexplored territories.
It has been more than a year since the SETI@home crew spent a hectic week at Arecibo, pointing the giant radio telescope at some of SETI's most promising targets. Much of the data collected during the reobservations has since been repackaged as work units, and sent out to users around the world for analysis.
SETI@home and BOINC are gradually converging, and the benefits for both are substantial. While SETI@home enjoys the increased flexibility of the BOINC platform, it brings to BOINC something of inestimable value to a distributed computing project: millions of SETI@home users, willing to use their computers' processing power for the advancement of scientific research.