The Hangout was recorded on Tuesday Apr. 9, 2013. You can still view the recorded discussion below at
by Seth Shostak, Senior Astronomer
It's a disturbing question, and one that I seem to get more frequently than before.
"Why are you looking for evidence of extraterrestrials? What's the point?"
While I have always thought that the motivation for looking for E.T. was both self-evident and patently worthy, it's possible that I'm a victim of my own job description. Others don't inevitably agree. Some will opine that there are better ways to spend the money.
The Gemini Planet Imager (GPI) is a next generation adaptive optics instrument being built for the Gemini Observatory. This is an ambitious project with the goal of directly imaging extrasolar planets orbiting nearby stars. The instrument is currently being integrated at the University of California at Santa Cruz.