Gale crater

Editorial: Lakes on Mars

I thought I was going to share my thoughts with you on the new study that was just published by Science. I hope you will enjoy this commentary, and better, that it will bring you some insight into that story.
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  • Gale crater

    I thought I was going to share my thoughts with you on the new study that was just published by Science. I hope you will enjoy this commentary, and better, that it will bring you some insight into that story.

    Read More
    Gale crater
  • Bill Borucki

    On October 15, the SETI Institute will award the 2015 Frank Drake Award for Innovation in SETI and Astrobiology Research to William Borucki, who was the Principal Investigator for NASA’s Kepler mission.

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    Bill Borucki
  • dunes

    Bad weather was the instigator of existential problems for “The Martian.” But Mark Watney and his fellow crew members might have avoided catastrophe (and changed the premise of Andy Weir’s novel) had they been able to avail themselves of the climate analyses of Lori Fenton, a scientist at the SETI Institute.

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    In his efforts to be rescued, Mark Watney has to traverse a long valley known as Mawrth Vallis. SETI Institute scientist Janice Bishop, who studies the composition of materials on the martian landscape, is an advocate of sending missions to this valley long before any humans venture to the Red Planet

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  • Martian Madness

    Sure, you “heart” Mars. It’s the starkly beautiful setting for the new film “The Martian,” and NASA has just announced that the Red Planet has sources of liquid water. Still, Mars remains hostile. Could we survive there? Plus, author Andy Weir describes how the readers of his serialized blog helped him write a scientifically accurate thriller that inspired the film.

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    Martian Madness
  • viking

    Space is arguably the final frontier, but frontiers can be dangerous. Planetary protection specialist Margaret Race has helped convene a NASA workshop to figure out what are the biggest dangers of sending anyone or anything to the Red Planet.

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  • mars

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  • Mars ice cap

    One of the principal concerns of any human residing on Mars – abandoned or otherwise – is harvesting water. SETI Institute scientist Adrian Brown has studied the habits of martian water, and has valuable insights for future colonists.

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    Mars ice cap
  • Mars mission

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    Mars mission
  • the martian

    The most interesting thing we wonder about Mars is this: does it house Martians? This week, some highly technical research touted during a Nasa press conference has given hope for an answer.

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    the martian

The SETI Institute needs your help

SETI Institute science

This is an incredibly exciting time for the SETI Institute. The number of verified planets outside of our solar systems grows rapidly, and includes several that may have liquid water on their surfaces. At the same time, we are learning that life can survive in amazing places, even in lakes sealed beneath the Antarctic ice. These and other recent developments virtually assure the existence, and ultimate verification, of life beyond Earth. Recently NASA Chief Scientist Ellen Stofan agreed, predicting "I think we're going to have strong indications of life beyond Earth within a decade, and I think we're going to have definitive evidence within 20 to 30 years." The SETI Institute is at the forefront of many of these discoveries. As the only organization that addresses the full range of disciplines related to understanding and explaining the origin and nature of life in the universe, we search for answers to critical questions such as:

  • How did life begin on Earth?
  • Where/when/how did it overcome bottlenecks?
  • Does it exist elsewhere?
  • Are there other technological life forms?
  • Can we survive our own technological adolescence?
  • Is there a long future for life on Earth?

The answers to these and related questions are critical for informing some of the most important decisions mankind will make in the next 50 years.

Unfortunately, it has become increasingly difficult for basic research institutions like our Institute to rely on government funding in the United States. Increasingly, we are dependent on visionaries such as you to support our programs. When you invest in the SETI Institute, you join leaders such as Dave Packard, Paul Allen, Bill Hewlett, Gordon Moore, and Franklin Antonio, all of whom have been strong supporters. The Institute is approaching a critical point where we may need to curtail some of our programs, so we need your support now!

After nine years en route, the New Horizons spacecraft is nearing Pluto for the July 14 flyby. We have many ideas to enhance our public and student engagement based on the expertise of our scientists who are participating in this mission, but we lack the funding to execute on them. 

The Institute’s NASA Astrobiology Team uses innovative, autonomous rovers in the high lakes of the Andes to simulate landers that will float in Titan’s ethane lakes. This team strives to better understand planetary responses to rapid climate change.  We have multiple opportunities for independent studies by postdoctoral fellows using these data, but we must find funds to support them. 

The Allen Telescope Array is being upgraded with more sensitive radio receivers, capable at working at even higher frequencies, to improve the search for other technological civilizations. This improved sensitivity is like building more telescopes, making the search even more effective. But we must urgently find funding to support our scientists to make use of the array.

These opportunities are all here today, but we need your help to seize them. You can be a part of discovering life beyond Earth! Please go to to make your tax-deductible donation now!

Thanks for your help!

Bill Diamond
President and CEO