Meet COSMIC: An Alien Hunter Instrument at the VLA

SETI Talks

Tags: SETI Talks, SETI Institute, SETI

Time: Wednesday, Jan 18, 2023 -

Location: Online

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COSMIC SETI (the Commensal Open-Source Multimode Interferometer Cluster Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) is about to survey of 40 million stars for technosignatures using the National Science Foundation’s Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA). The VLA is the world’s largest radio telescope array operating at microwave frequencies. It’s also where Jodie Foster heard an alien signal in the 1997 movie “Contact.”

COSMIC SETI is a collaboration between the SETI Institute and the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), which operates the VLA, to bring a state-of-the-art search for extraterrestrial intelligence to the VLA for the first time. As the VLA conducts observations with its 27 antennas, COSMIC SETI will enable SETI Institute scientists to access a copy of that data to analyze for evidence of technosignatures, signs of technology not caused by natural phenomena.

Once up and running, it is estimated that COSMIC SETI will observe about 40 million galactic star systems in two years. It will be the most comprehensive SETI observing program ever conducted in the Northern Hemisphere, with high sensitivity and a colossal target list.

To discuss the ability of COSMIC SETI to conduct this unique technosignature search, we invited two researchers involved in the project. Chenoa Tremblay, radio astronomer at the SETI Institute and Mark Ruzindana, a postdoctoral scholar at UC Berkeley. Together with Molly Bentley, executive Producer and Co-Host at Big Picture Science, they will discuss the potential of COSMIC SETI to detect technosignatures from such a large star system sample located “only” 900 light-years away from us.

Chenoa Tremblay

Chenoa Tremblay is a researcher who joined the SETI Institute in 2022 as a radio astronomer, working on the new Commensal Open-Source Multimode Interferometric Cluster (COSMIC) for the Jansky Very Large Array designed to complete an all-sky search for extraterrestrial intelligence. She also studies the chemistry of stars and what they can tell us about the motion of galaxies and the age and life cycles of different-sized stars.

Mark Ruzindana

Mark Ruzindana is a Postdoctoral Scholar at UC Berkeley doing research for the SETI institute. He is currently working on the National Radio Dynamic Zone (NRDZ) project at the Hat Creek Radio Observatory (HCRO), the Breakthrough Listen User Supplied Equipment (BLUSE) project at MeerKAT and the Commensal Open-Source Multimode Interferometric Cluster at the Very Large Array (VLA). He primarily develops, implements, and tests software and signal processing techniques for these projects.

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