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SETI 2020: A Roadmap for Future SETI Observing Projects


Jill Tarter




A recent series of workshops has laid out a roadmap for SETI research for the next few decades. Three different approaches were identified. 1) Continue the radio search; build an affordable array from consumer market components, expand the search in frequency, and increase the target list to 100,000 stars. This array will serve as a technology demonstration and enable the international radio astronomy community to realize an array that is a hundred times larger and capable (among other things) of searching a million stars. 2) Begin searches for very fast optical and infrared pulses from a million stars. 3) As Moore’s Law delivers increased computational capacity, build an omni-directional sky survey array capable of detecting strong, transient, radio signals from billions of stars.

SETI could succeed tomorrow, or it may be an endeavor for multiple generations. We are, after all, a very young technology in a very old galaxy. While our own leakage radiation continues to outshine the Sun at many frequencies, we remain detectable to others. When our use of the spectrum becomes more efficient, it will be time to consider deliberate transmissions and the really tough questions: Who will speak for Earth? What will they say? Maybe by then we will be old enough to find some answers.


radio astronomy, optical and infrared searches, omni-directional sky survey array

  • The paper (author Web site)


Principal Author Biography

Jill Tarter holds the Bernard M. Oliver Chair for SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) and is Director for SETI Research at the SETI Institute, Mountain View, California.  She served as Project Scientist for NASA’s SETI program and has conducted numerous observational programs at radio observatories worldwide.  Tarter’s work has brought her wide recognition in the scientific community, including the Lifetime Achievement Award from Women in Aerospace, two Public Service Medals from NASA, Chabot Observatory’s Person of the Year award (1997), and a Women of Achievement Award, Science and Technology category, by the Women’s Fund and San Jose Mercury News (1998).

Principal Author Affiliation

SETI Institute
2035 Landings Drive
Mountain View , CA 94043
Phone: 1-650-960-4555
Fax: 1-650-968-5830
Email: tarter@vger.seti.org


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