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[sci.astro] ET Life (Astronomy Frequently Asked Questions) (6/9)
Section - F.08 What is happening with SETI now?

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Some of the following material is from SETIQuest Magazine, copyright
Helmers Publishing, and used by permission.  

Project BETA (Billion-channel ExtraTerrestrial Assay) is a radio
search begun 1995 October 30.  It is sponsored by the Planetary
Society and is an upgraded version of Project META (Million...).
(Actually META I; see below for META II.)  META I/BETA's observatory
is the 26-meter radio antenna at Harvard, Massachusetts.  Their Web
site is <URL:>.

META II uses a 30-meter antenna at the Argentine Institute for Radio
Astronomy, near Buenos Aires, Argentina, and provides coverage of the
southern sky.  <URL:>

META I/II monitored 8.4 million channels at once with a spectral
resolution of 0.05 Hz, an instantaneous bandwidth of 0.4 MHz, a total
frequency coverage of 1.2 MHz, a maximum sensitivity of 7x10^-24 W m^-2,
and a combined sky coverage of 93 percent.  After five years of
observations from the northern hemisphere and observing 6x10^13
different signals, META I found 34 candidates, or "alerts".
Unfortunately, the data are insufficient to determine their real origin.
Interestingly, the observed signals seem to cluster near the galactic
plane, where the major density of Milky Way stars dwell.  META II, after
three years of observations and surveying the southern hemisphere sky
almost three times, found nineteen signals with similar characteristics
to the META I results.  META II has also observed eighty nearby, main
sequence stars (less than fifty light years from the Sun) that have the
same physical characteristics as Earth's star.  These observations were
performed using the tracking mode for periods of one hour each at two
different epochs.

On 1992 October 12, NASA began its first SETI program called
HRMS---High-Resolution Microwave Survey.  Unfortunately for all,
Congress decided the project was spending way too much money---even
though it received less funds per year than your average big league
sports star or film actor---and cut all money to NASA for SETI work.
This act saved our national deficit by all of 0.0002 percent.

Fortunately, NASA SETI was saved as a private venture called Project
Phoenix and run by The SETI Institute.  It operates between 1.0 and
3.2 GHz with 1 Hz resolution and 2.8E7 channels at a time.  Rather
than trying to scan the entire sky, this survey focusses on
approximately 1000 nearby stars.  They began observations in 1995
February using the Parkes 64 m radio telescope in New South Wales,
Australia, and have since moved to the 42 m radio telescope in Green
Bank, West Virginia.  After completing about 1/3 of their targets,
they had found no evidence of ET transmissions.  More details are in
SETIQuest issue 3 and at the Project Phoenix home page
<URL:>.  The Web site has
lots of general information about SETI as well as details of the

Since 1973, Ohio State University had conducted a radio search with a
telescope consisting of a fixed parabolic reflector and a tiltable
flat reflector, each about 110 m wide and 30 m high.  Information is
available at <URL:> or a
longer version in SETIQuest issue 3.  The "wow!" signal, detected in
1977, had the appearance of an extraterrestrial signal but was seen
only briefly and never repeated.  However, the Ohio State University
administration decided to let the landlord who owns the property on
which Big Ear resides tear down the radio telescopes and put up condos
and a golf course instead.  OSU SETI is considering its next step,
Project Argus, at an undetermined location.

The UC Berkeley SETI Program, SERENDIP (Search for Extraterrestrial
Radio Emissions from Nearby Developed Intelligent Populations) is an
ongoing scientific research effort aimed at detecting radio signals
from extraterrestrial civilizations.  The project is the world's only
"piggyback" SETI system, operating alongside simultaneously conducted
conventional radio astronomy observations.  SERENDIP is currently
piggybacking on the 300 m dish at Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico,
the largest radio telescope in the world.  Information at
<URL:>, from which this
paragraph was extracted.  SERENDIP operates at 430 MHz; more
information is given in SETIQuest issue 3.

Project BAMBI is an amateur SETI effort operating at a radio frequency
of 4 GHz.  See SETIQuest issue 5 and
<URL:> for status reports.

The Columbus Optical SETI Observatory uses visible light instead of
radio waves.  The COSETI Observatory is a prototype observatory
located in Bexley, Ohio, USA.  Telescope aperture size is 30 cm.  More
information in SETIQuest issue 4 and at <URL:>.
Much of the work on "Optical SETI" comes from Dr. Stuart A. Kingsley
<>, who also maintains BBS on
Optical SETI.

The Planetary Society maintains a list of online SETI-related material
at <URL:>.

And of course SETIQuest magazine, Larry Klaes, Editor.  For
subscription or other information, contact Helmers Publishing, 174
Concord Street, Peterborough, NH 03458-0874.  Phone (603) 924-9631,
FAX (603) 924-7408, Internet: or see

Other references:

Frank Drake, Dava Sobel, Is Anyone Out There: The Scientific
  Search For Extraterrestrial Intelligence, 1992, Delacorte
  Press, ISBN 0-385-30532-X.

Frank White, The SETI Factor, 1990, Walker Publishing Company, 
  Inc., ISBN 0-8027-1105-7. 

Donald Goldsmith and Tobias Owen, The Search For Life in the
  Universe, Second Edition, 1992, Addison-Wesley Publishing 
  Company, Inc., ISBN 0-201-56949-3.

Walter Sullivan, We Are Not Alone: The Continuing Search for
  Extraterrestrial Intelligence, 1993, Dutton, ISBN 

G. Seth Shostak, Editor, Progress In The Search For 
  Extraterrestrial Life, 1993 Bioastronomy Symposium, Santa 
  Cruz, California, 16--20 August 1993.  Published in 1995 by The 
  Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP).  ISBN 0-937707-93-7. 

The journals Icarus, <URL:>, and
  Astronomy & Geophysics often feature papers concerning SETI.

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Top Document: [sci.astro] ET Life (Astronomy Frequently Asked Questions) (6/9)
Previous Document: F.07 What's a Dyson spheres?
Next Document: F.09 Why search for extraterrestrial intelligence using radio? Why not method?

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