Archive | February 2012

Welcome to the SETI Live Blog

We’re pleased to welcome you to the blog for SETI Live. We’re asking for the public’s help in searching for extraterrestrial (ET) in radio signals from space. SETI uses the Allen Telescope Array (ATA) and lots of computer power to search for these signals automatically – so you might ask why we need you to help us search the skies in SETI Live? The answer lies is the talents humans possess, and computers cannot quite replicate. With computers and human brains working together, SETI Live can do more: faster.

The researchers at the SETI Institute have spent years creating an automated search system called SonATA (SETI on the ATA). This system handles the hugely complex task of deciding what to do with the signals the ATA detects. The huge number of signals in a single observation means that even though it is very advanced, SonATA just cannot complete the various queries to classify whether or not the candidates are interesting before the next data acquisition cycle starts up.

In order to avoid uneven and unknown completion of signal classification, SonATA skips over many “crowded” frequency bands. We are literally blind to any ET signals that might be arriving at those frequencies. Overall, it’s only a few percent of the entire 1 to 10 GHz frequency range we are trying to explore systematically, but those might be the most important frequencies!

Faster processors will help, but we really need to better understand what signals are in those crowded bands, and what is generating them, so that we can help SonATA do a better job of classifying and finding any really interesting candidates buried underneath all this clutter. That’s where you come in. We want to use your eyes and brains to help us work through these crowded bands. We want you to tell us about all the signals/patterns you can see, and why you think they may be from ET technologies rather than our own.

You’ll have to be quick – the telescope will move onto its next target in about 90 seconds!

SETI Live has been created by the Zooniverse, the SETI Institute and TED, through the TED Prize to allow everyone to join the search. You can read more about the science on the main SETI Live site, and our quick tutorial will explain how to get started in analyzing the signals from the ATA. We don’t know how well this will work. We’ve never had an army of citizen scientists to help us before. Until now we’ve been blind to these frequencies. We want you to help us regain them, and see if there’s an ET signal hidden there. Eventually, we want to learn whatever tricks you use to do your classifications, so we can teach SonATA how to do it as well.

We think that SETI Live is going to be very interesting and fun! Join the search now…