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Womensphere's Fundraiser:

Search for Extraterrestial Intelligence (SETI) Institute

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EVENT DATE: Dec 31, 2011



The mission of the SETI Institute is to explore, understand and explain the origin, nature and prevalence of life in the universe.

We believe we are conducting the most profound search in human history — to know our beginnings and our place among the stars.

The SETI Institute is a private, nonprofit organization dedicated to scientific research, education and public outreach.

The Institute comprises 3 centers, the Center for SETI Research, the Carl Sagan Center for the Study of Life in the Universe and the Center for Education and Public Outreach.

Founded in November 1984, the SETI Institute began operations on February 1, 1985. Today it employs over 150 scientists, educators and support staff. Research at the Institute is anchored by two centers. Dr. Jill Tarter leads the Center for SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Research as Bernard M. Oliver Chair for SETI. Dr. David Morrison is the Director for the Carl Sagan Center for the Study of Life in the Universe. Edna DeVore leads our Center for Education and Public Outreach.

In 2011, Womensphere honored Dr. Jill Tarter with the Womensphere Global Award for Advancement in Science.

SETI, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, is an exploratory science that seeks evidence of life in the universe by looking for some signature of its technology.

Our current understanding of life’s origin on Earth suggests that given a suitable environment and sufficient time, life will develop on other planets. Whether evolution will give rise to intelligent, technological civilizations is open to speculation. However, such a civilization could be detected across interstellar distances, and may actually offer our best opportunity for discovering extraterrestrial life in the near future.

Finding evidence of other technological civilizations however, requires significant effort. Currently the Center for SETI Research develops signal-processing technology and uses it to search for signals from advanced technological civilizations in our galaxy.

Work at the Center is divided into two areas: Research and Development, and Projects. R&D efforts include the development of new signal processing algorithms, new search technology, and new SETI search strategies that are then incorporated into specific observing projects. The algorithms and technology developed in the lab are first field-tested and then implemented during observing. The observing results are used to guide the development of new hardware, software, and observing facilities. The improved SETI observing projects in turn provide new ideas for research and development. This cycle leads to continuing progress and diversification in our ability to search for extraterrestrial signals.

From 1994 - 2004, the Center for SETI Research at the SETI Institute was funded entirely by donations from individuals and grants from private foundations. In 2005, a NASA grant was awarded for work on signal detection for the Allen Telescope Array. Donations and non-governmental grants still comprise the vast majority of funding for the Center.

Science belongs to no country.
- Louise Pasteur, Inventor

Science is so much not to obtain new facts as to discover new ways of thinking about them.
- William Lawrence Bragg, Nobel laureate

Astronomy compels the soul to look upwards and leads us from this world to another.
- Plato

The history of astronomy is the history of receding horizons.
- Edwin Hubble

We are a way for the cosmos to know itself.
- Carl Sagan


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