Do Your Own Search for Extra-terrestrial Intelligence, or Help Others Do It

Citizen Science
Location: D136
Average rating: ***..
(3.00, 2 ratings)

UFO freaks and alien abduction victims not welcome! SETI is a serious research project, exploring one of the most important scientific and spiritual questions of human life: are there intelligent technological societies elsewhere in the galaxy?

Today the search is more targeted than ever before, thanks to the ongoing discovery of planets around nearby stars, and the Allen Telescope Array of 42 highly precise radio telescopes.

More and more people are becoming involved in the search, from scientists in fields outside astronomy to engineers writing signal processing code. And with the launch of and the Personal SETI application, ordinary citizens can, for the first time, look for signal patterns in the noisy static with their eyes.

The code is open source, including signal processing, data visualization, user interface, and collaboration tools.

Amazon, Dell, Google, Adobe, and other technology companies are getting involved in forming the platform that manages the data and drives the applications. But more importantly, communities are forming around these bodies of code, providing many opportunities to get involved with what 2009 TED Prize winner Jill Tarter calls “the ultimate search for cosmic company”.

Come to this session for an update on the current state of SETI’s “citizen scientist” projects, to get an overview of the technologies being used, and to learn specific ways you can participate. We’ll also look at specific signals that some of us have found. Could they be signs of ET? Join us to find out.

Avinash Agrawal

SETI Institute

Avinash Agrawal is responsible for the setiQuest program – crowdsourcing the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence, defining the vision and roadmap. He also oversees the execution of the program. In previous roles, he has managed large globally-distributed software teams responsible for cloud infrastructure management products.

Francis Potter

The Hathersage Group

Francis Potter helps digital technology businesses build better products faster by optimizing technical roadmaps, igniting development teams around new initiatives, implementing best practice development processes, coaching and training engineers transitioning to management roles, and developing applications. His company, The Hathersage Group, recently built a web and mobile application for the SETI Institute which was presented at OSCON 2011.

Comments on this page are now closed.


Avinash Agrawal
07/12/2011 10:18am PDT

The signal detection software is completely open source. You can download it today from Come to the session to learn more.

Anders Feder
07/12/2011 5:42am PDT

Please note: the most compelling parts of the SETI business process, namely the real-time data from SETI Institute’s telescope and the services to verify any signals detected in them are proprietary. In other words, setiQuest is open core. There has been loose mentions of these services being opened at “a later stage”, but from the looks of it, this is wholly dependent on SETI Institute meeting some undisclosed funding target.