SETILive’s First Birthday

A year ago plus a few days, SETILive was launched, coinciding with the Science Channel’s “Are We Alone?” month.  They featured all things ET including SETI (the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) and along with science, some mythology, fact, fiction, speculation and some stuff that’s simply beyond the rim. This wonderful range of material naturally revolves around this rich, inspiring and stimulating subject. It all rises from the fundamental question that the Science Channel used as their tag line: “Are We Alone?” and crosses interdisciplinary lines from science to religion, from investigative techniques to conspiracy theories, engineering to imaginative fantasy fiction.

Well, March 2013 is Science Channel’s second annual “Are We Alone?” month and they’re once again in partnership with the SETI Institute. Part of that partnership will be connecting viewers with SETILive through a link on the website and probably some on-air messages.  Discovery has a blog post about the event.

In the past year, 78,000 people have signed up to be “SETIzen scientists” at SETI Institute  / zooniverse’s SETILive project. Together they’ve viewed sets of waterfall images almost 4 million times, looking for ET signals and also dutifully marking earth-based radio interference signals. We went seven long months without a critical piece of the SETILive concept – follow-ups: The ability to command the telescope to re-check a particular habitable-zone star (usually in the Kepler field) immediately after finding potential ET signals in the data to see if the signal persists.

Shortly after getting follow-ups working, we re-vamped the site to give it a nicer look and made it a bit more efficient and friendly including an improved tutorial. We recently made the user’s task of marking live data much easier by not requiring the signal descriptions clicks that are now only needed for processing archived data, when time is not critical. When checking live data, we also encourage users to skip marking signals that they see are showing up in more than one beam and just look for ET candidates, which show up in one beam only. With live data, we only have about 2.5 minutes to check as many of the twelve sets of live data uploaded to us every 3 to 5 minutes when the telescope is active.

Since they became operational in October, we’ve triggered almost one thousand follow-up requests. Maybe about half of those arrived at the telescope in time to produce a follow-up measurement, but that percentage is improving with the marking improvements we’ve already made will improve further in the future as we get smarter in the marking analysis algorithm and how deal out the data to users. Other improvement to both the front- and back-ends are also coming in the next few weeks.

We’re looking forward to an influx of new and returning users this month and we welcome you all to join in this unique way of contributing to the grand endeavor of trying to answer the question: “Are We Alone?”

Lou Nigra

SETILive Project Scientist


10 responses to “SETILive’s First Birthday”

  1. FROZENCHOSEN says :



    • Lou Nigra says :

      The SETI Institute is keen on making SETIlive usable on such mobile devices. We are looking at this. Thanks for the general suggestion as well as the specific feedback.

  2. Nancy Malloy says :

    Happy birthday 🙂 My wish for this birthday is 🙂
    My suggestion is to have a better display or optimize the target star. A more visual oriented target map. When we go to the TARGET web-page, a more visual enhanced image, rather than the big black circle or dot we see.

    • angel says :

      hi, happy birthday.
      i have a awesome way to make the pictures more clearer.
      go toyour comp settings, click view, then click coustamize, after that you can make your zooonizerse, setilive pictures better

  3. Revelin1 says :

    I can only see the signal? or it may be to hear?

    • Lou Nigra says :

      The images are for marking signals where you see them. There is no audio with them. Please go to for instructions on how to use the site.

  4. says :

    I’m not sure exactly why but this web site is loading extremely slow for

    me. Is anyone else having this issue or is it a problem on my end? I’ll check back later on and

    see if the problem still exists.

  5. snark9 says :

    cool now go look for ET

  6. Sandipan Paul says :

    awesome site…..just love hunting for ET’s….kudos to the SETIlive team….

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