Welcome to the SETI Institute

exoplanet with dyson swarm

Searching for Life … and Death … in the Universe

For over a half century astronomers have been seeking out signs of sentient life in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI). Now a group of scientists wants to reverse this strategy. Instead of searching for signs of life beyond Earth, they want to hunt for signs of death in the cosmos.
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  • exoplanet with dyson swarm

    For over a half century astronomers have been seeking out signs of sentient life in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI). Now a group of scientists wants to reverse this strategy. Instead of searching for signs of life beyond Earth, they want to hunt for signs of death in the cosmos.

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    exoplanet with dyson swarm
  • Dr. Tom Barclay gives an overview of the innovative engineering that will prolong the life of NASA's Kepler spacecraft and do long-term, simultaneous optical observation of thousands of objects at high precision.

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  • What Lies Beneath

    What you can’t see may astound you. Beneath the oceans’ churning surface, oceanographers have recently discovered the largest volcano in the world – perhaps in the solar system. Also, the menace of America’s Cascadia fault, which could unleash a devastating, magnitude 9 earthquake.

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    What Lies Beneath
  • Itokawa asteroid

    Since earlier this year, a rumor has been floating around the internet that a large asteroid will impact in the Caribbean in September, causing global destruction. This rumor is completely false.

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    Itokawa asteroid
  • OPUS screenshot

    Congratulations to Mark Showalter and his team on NASA’s PDS Program Selection! NASA has announced that the team led by Mark Showalter, Planetary Astronomer and Senior Research Scientist at the SETI Institute Carl Sagan Center (CSC), has been selected to continue serving as the PDS Node for ring science.

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    OPUS screenshot
  • Nathalie Cabrol

    The SETI Institute announces the appointment of Nathalie Cabrol as the lead for its multidisciplinary research programs into the nature and distribution of life beyond Earth. She will head the Institute’s Carl Sagan Center for the Study of Life in the Universe.

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    Nathalie Cabrol
  • Are You Martian

    Could your favorite Earthling also be your favorite Martian? Allow me to respond: The answer is "yes." It's possible that billions of years ago, tiny bits of biology quit the Red Planet and infected ours. If so, your family tree -- and that of every other terrestrial life form -- has its deepest roots not in the ancient oceans of Earth, but in the vanished seas of Mars.

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    Are You Martian
  • Skeptic Seth

    Are you skeptical? Do you readily accept the claimed benefits of organic milk, or the whitening ingredients in your toothpaste? What about the daily news on TV? The need to keep our skeptical wits about us has never been greater. We follow Seth around as he faces the daily onslaught of hype and hokum.

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    Skeptic Seth
  • 51 Eri

    Using a powerful new imaging device, astronomers have espied a Jupiter-like exoplanet 100 light-years distant in the constellation of Eridanus.

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    51 Eri
  • What do we know about the composition, surface, depth and distribution of liquid on Saturn's largest moon, Titan? Stanford University's Howard Zbker uncovers some of the mysteries of Titan's lakes by analyzing data from the Cassini altimeter and radiometer.

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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 https://www.teamseti.org to make your tax-deductible donation now!

Thanks for your help!

Bill Diamond
President and CEO