Laser SETI Update: Observatory in Hawai’i and Expansion Plans

Laser SETI Update: Observatory in Hawai’i and Expansion Plans

Laser SETI

Hello everyone, and welcome to another LaserSETI update!  I hope 2021 is treating you all better than 2020 and, to help with that, I have good news and great news.  I apologize for the dearth of pictures; I hope you’ll find our news exciting nonetheless.

First, the good news:  The less-than-great news is that travel restrictions had prevented us from installing the other two Laser SETI instruments on Haleakala. Still, the good news is there are no remaining roadblocks, and we’re starting the process of crating them and final preparation for Installation Day: Haleakala Edition.  We don’t have a date on the calendar pinned yet, but—knock on wood—it’s going to be soon.  My hope is April, if not March.  We can’t wait to get these two beautiful boxes of science on the sky.

Second, the great news:  LaserSETI is growing!  My original, personal bar for success was to build the instruments so we could see if they delivered the kind of science I’d expected, and it was with your help that we’ve achieved that.  But the project’s goal has always been a global network monitoring all the time, all the time.  We’re officially starting the next phase of the project to build and deploy TEN more instruments. 

This phase isn’t just an on-paper exercise, however:

  • Twenty-two cameras are being manufactured as we speak.  Recall there are two cameras per instrument, plus two spares.
  • The enclosure fabricator is eager to deliver a literal ton of stainless steel!  (907kg for those of you appropriately offended by imperial units, or 41.7 billion Planck masses for the particle physicists)
  • The plan calls for at least three new observatories spanning the western hemisphere, and we’ve already gotten initial agreement from 2 of these ideal and exciting observatories!


Happy Kermit
(Ok, I lied: one picture)

And perhaps most importantly, we’ve also secured a large part of the estimated $540k minimum funding required to do this next phase!  While we’re not currently planning another crowdfunding campaign, federal funding is only slowly reawakening to SETI, so we’re still a privately funded effort.  If you or someone you know would like to continue to support us, please go to, check “Write us a comment,” and mention Laser SETI.

I hope you’re as excited as the whole LaserSETI team is about where we’re heading, both geographically and upwards. I look forward to writing the next update on First Light at Haleakala!


JWST: NASA’s Amazing Next Generation Observatory


JWST eBook preview

The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) has been called Hubble’s successor, and in terms of how it could revolutionize astronomy, perhaps it will earn that title. But JWST’s true lineage lies in the invisible realm of infrared astronomy, a type of light that can unlock the secrets of star birth, the chemistry of exoplanets, and the dawn of the age of galaxies. Meet JWST’s predecessors, get to know the beauty of the infrared sky, and see how JWST’s amazing design will change the way we see, and comprehend, our universe.


Learn more with this free e-book from the SETI Institute, straight to your inbox:

Recent Articles