In early April, leading SETI researchers gathered at the SETI Institute’s Allen Telescope Array (ATA) for an Observer Training Workshop. This is the first workshop since the ATA was refurbished and brought together the best minds in the search for life beyond Earth for three days of learning and collaboration.
The ATA’s unique capabilities has drawn the interest of SETI researchers who can leverage its 42 dishes and upgraded digital backend to further their ongoing and future projects. This workshop illustrates the exciting collaborations and partnerships the ATA team is building across the SETI and astronomy community to support the search for life beyond Earth.
To kick the workshop off the ATA team gave a series of talks about the refurbished array and recent surveys and projects. The group then took a tour of the site and selected attendees presented ideas about how the ATA could support their specific research.
PhD. Candidate Nick Tusay (Penn State) discussed the potential to use the ATA to test a new radio frequency interference algorithm for refining future SETI searches.
Dr. Joe Bright gave a live demo of imaging the sky with the ATA, and talked about the future prospects of using the ATA for slow transient science such as observing the after-effects of supernovae.
The next day, the attendees received a crash course in how to operate the ATA and put their new skills to the test by conducting a series of science observations in groups:
- Observations of Mars and locating orbiters via radio transmissions
- Taking an image of the supernova remnant Cas A
- Observing the Crab pulsar
On the final day, attendees steered the telescopes themselves and reduced the data from Day 2 to create refined science images and results.
The workshop laid the groundwork for continued collaboration in the search for life beyond Earth and began opening doors to cutting-edge projects that utilize the ATA’s impressive observation capabilities.