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Coronavirus Update

Coronavirus Update

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Dear Friends and Supporters of the SETI Institute,

The COVID-19 pandemic is challenging us all, and like you, we are grappling with what it means for us, our families, neighbors, and you - the SETI Institute community. Like you, the SETI Institute is taking steps to do our best to safeguard the well-being of our employees, clients, friends, and community. This crisis is truly global, affecting all of humanity. Today I would like to share information about our current actions and situation, and some thoughts about how we will endeavor to continue the SETI Institute’s mission. 

For several weeks now, we have been undertaking progressive steps to reduce risk of exposure to the coronavirus and protect all our employees.  As you may know, the SETI Institute is headquartered in Mountain View, CA, in Santa Clara County.  Just yesterday, Monday, March 16, our county announced a "shelter in place" order that will be in effect until April 7, unless directed otherwise.  Fortunately, the SETI Institute had already implemented a voluntary ‘work from home’ policy and tested its ability to support large numbers of employees and scientists working remotely.  Of course, with many of our scientists dependent upon laboratory facilities or field expeditions to carry out their work, there will be a definite impact on our research mission.  But, for many more, we will fully utilize available tools and technologies to ensure the continuity of business operations, research and education programs, and SETI search activities.  I have been inspired by the determination, perseverance and creativity of our dedicated scientists and staff in pursuing a ‘business-as-usual’ mentality. They are continuing to meet and collaborate virtually so that we can sustain our community and further our mission.  

While we have also canceled all public events for the immediate future, we are doing our utmost to continue sharing our progress and knowledge with you, the TeamSETI community.  For example, instead of holding our monthly in-person public lecture series, SETI Talks, we are instead offering this experience online. Our first SETI Talks Virtual Edition will take place on March 25th and is open to everyone, everywhere, at no cost. This month’s topic will be Extremophiles: Extreme Life on Other Worlds? And, in case the online event is fully booked we’ll record it and share it with you afterwards.

Last week, our radio program and podcast Big Picture Science explored some of the scientific realities of COVID-19, including interviews with public health experts, social psychologists, virologists and more in Skeptic Check: Pandemic Fear.  It is a thoughtful and timely perspective on the coronavirus and definitely worth a listen!

Finally, in an effort to keep everyone at the Allen Telescope Array (ATA) and Hat Creek Radio Observatory (HCRO) safe, the site is closed to visitors until potential dangers from COVID-19 have passed.

Importantly, the search for life beyond Earth continues, together with our education and outreach programs to inspire the next generation of scientists and explorers. The impact of our work is too important to put on hold, so we are taking advantage of all possible means to get the job done and face the challenges against us.

We hope you’ll continue to explore the resources we have to share with you – on our website, on social media, and on the radio. Although we will face the news of the day, whatever it may be, we can also continue to let our imaginations take us to whatever may be out there, beyond Earth. Continuing to exercise our curiosity is especially important in times like these.

We will continue to be scientists, explorers, teachers and most importantly, a community of caring and curious people. We stand with all humanity and wish you all safety and good health.


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Bill Diamond
President & CEO

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