Jill Tarter: A Scientist Searching For Alien Life
Audio for this story from Fresh Air from WHYY will be available today at approx. 5:00 p.m. ET.
As a child, astronomer Jill Tarter would walk along the beaches of Western Florida with her father and look up at the stars.
"I assumed, at that time, that along some beach on some planet, there would be a small creature walking with its dad and they would see our sun in their sky, and they might wonder whether anyone was there," she tells Fresh Air's Dave Davies. "But I never thought about it professionally until graduate school."
In graduate school, Tarter worked on a project designed to search radio frequencies for clues about extra-terrestrial life forms. The project, known as SERENDIP, was part of the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Life (SETI) program based at the University of California, Berkeley.
Tarter got hooked — and has devoted her life to the search for extra-terrestrial life. Over the course of her career at SETI, she's searched nearby star systems for signs of alien life and headed up efforts to create new telescopes to scan the skies for signals.