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2020 Activity Report of the SETI Institute

2020 Activity Report of the SETI Institute

SETI Institute Activity Report 2020 Header

Download the SETI Institute’s 2020 Activity Report here

2020 was an astonishing year in so many ways. Historians will undoubtedly have much to say about how the world responded to the Covid-19 pandemic and the lessons learned.

Like everyone, we at the SETI Institute had to make a lot of adjustments. But despite all the personal and professional challenges, the vital work continued. Our scientists made discoveries, new ways of working emerged, and we advanced our mission and our search for life beyond Earth.

The numbers, of course, are striking. 228 publications in peer-reviewed journals, 76 white paper contributions to the Planetary Science and Astrobiology Decadal Survey (2023-2032), 183 conference abstracts and proceedings (in a year when conference participation changed profoundly), hundreds of press mentions, articles, videos, live streams, and public (albeit virtual) presentations. And behind the numbers are the stories:

  • The TESS mission uncovered its first world with two stars
  • The SETI Institute and National Radio Astronomy Observatory partnered for SETI science at the Very Large Array
  • A Martian moon’s orbit hinted at an ancient ring of Mars
  • NASA awarded the SETI Institute the contract for planetary protection
  • Scientists continued to discover habitable-zone Earth-sized planets in Kepler data

In addition to providing opportunities for breakthrough science, the Frontier Development Lab and summer internship programs were also unique social experiments, with students and researchers from across the globe collaborating in real-time in virtual environments. Education initiatives, including Airborne Astronomy Ambassadors and programming for Girl Scouts, went online successfully. And outreach activities touched millions of people by being offered online.

2021 will be an opportunity to leverage what we’ve learned and continue to what worked. With vaccinations, it may also be possible to begin to return to in-person activities in labs, in the field and with one another. No matter what, we will learn more about the universe and our Earth, and we will share that with people who share our curiosity and our passion around the world.

Learn more about what we did in 2020 here.


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