Aliens Don’t Want To Eat Us, Says Former SETI Director

Don't worry Ridley, she just wants to explore.


Alien life probably isn’t interested in having us for dinner, enslaving us or laying eggs in our bellies, according to a recent statement by former SETI director Jill Tarter.

(Of course, Hollywood would rather have us think otherwise.)

In a press release announcing the Institute’s science and sci-fi SETIcon event, taking place June 22 – 24 in Santa Clara, CA, Tarter — who was the inspiration for Jodie Foster’s character in the film “Contact” — disagreed with both filmmakers and Stephen Hawking over the portrayal of extraterrestrials as monsters hungry for human flesh.

“Often the aliens of science fiction say more about us than they do about themselves,” Tarter said. “While Sir Stephen Hawking warned that alien life might try to conquer or colonize Earth, I respectfully disagree. If aliens were able to visit Earth that would mean they would have technological capabilities sophisticated enough not to need slaves, food, or other planets. If aliens were to come here it would be simply to explore.

“Considering the age of the universe, we probably wouldn’t be their first extraterrestrial encounter, either. We should look at movies like ‘Men in Black III,’ ‘Prometheus’ and ‘Battleship’ as great entertainment and metaphors for our own fears, but we should not consider them harbingers of alien visitation.”

SETI's Alien Telescope Array (ATA) listens day and night for a signal from space (SETI)

Tarter, 68, recently announced her stepping down as director of SETI in order to focus on funding for the Institute, which is currently running only on private donations. Funding SETI, according to Tarter, is investing in humanity’s future.

“Think about it. If we detect a signal, we could learn about their past (because of the time their signal took to reach us) and the possibility of our future. Successful detection means that, on average, technologies last for a long time. Understanding that it is possible to find solutions to our terrestrial problems and to become a very old civilization, because someone else has managed to do just that, is hugely important! Knowing that there can be a future may motivate us to achieve it.”

On the other hand, concern that searching the sky for signs of life — as well as sending out your own — could call down hungry alien monsters would make a good case for keeping quiet. And a quiet search may not get the necessary funding to keep going. I can see where Tarter is coming from.

Let’s just hope she’s right. (About the eating part, at least.)

Top image: Alien 3, © 20th Century Fox. Tip of the tinfoil hat to

Alien Hunter Jill Tarter Changing Her Focus

SETI's Jill Tarter. Credit: SETI


After thirty-five years of listening for extra-terrestrial intelligence, astronomer Jill Tarter is stepping down from the research and will now be doing a more Earthly task: making sure there’s enough money for SETI to continue its search.

Tarter, who was the inspiration for the character Ellie Arroway in Carl Sagan’s novel and film “Contact,” announced today that Dr. Gerry Harp will step into the directorship role at SETI, “to continue our strong tradition of excellent research, freeing me up to focus on finding stable funding for it. I want to make the endowment of SETI research a success, so that my colleagues now, and in the future, can focus on the search for extraterrestrial intelligence for all of us.”

Tarter, 68, signed on to the NASA SETI program in the 1970s when a small group of NASA researchers were developing novel equipment and strategies to make systematic radio SETI observations. Since the decision by Congressional in 1993 to no longer fund the program, she has led the efforts at the non-profit SETI Institute to continue the work. Tarter spearheaded a decade-long program, dubbed Project Phoenix, that used large antennas in Australia, Puerto Rico and West Virginia to examine approximately one thousand nearby star systems over an unprecedented wide range of radio frequencies. Astronomers suspected that planets existed around other stars, but that was only a hypothesis – until 1995. Recently NASA’s Kepler telescope, launched in 2009, has discovered thousands of new planetary systems, some of them containing planets as small as the Earth.

“Kepler has been a paradigm shift—starting with the first data release in 2010 and second in 2011 and third in 2012, we have altered our SETI search strategy. We are no longer pointing our telescopes at Sun-like stars in hopes of finding something; we are now observing stars where we KNOW there are planets. Exoplanets are real. We’ve gone from having 20-30 potential targets to having thousands of targets. Kepler is telling us WHERE to look, and we are focusing there,” said Tarter.

SETI research is now only funded by private donations, “limiting how quickly we can search these newly discovered planets for intelligent life,” said Tarter. “The best reason to support SETI research is because it is an investment in our own future. The scientist Phil Morrison said that ‘SETI is the archeology of the future.’ Think about it. If we detect a signal, we could learn about THEIR past (because of the time their signal took to reach us) and the possibility of OUR future. Successful detection means that, on average, technologies last for a long time. That’s the only way another technological civilization can overlap with us in time and space. Understanding that it is possible to find solutions to our terrestrial problems and to become a very old civilization, because someone else has managed to do just that, is hugely important! Knowing that there can be a future may motivate us to achieve it.”

Tarter will be both celebrated and be one of the featured speakers at the gala dinner during the SETI Institute’s public event, SETIcon II, to be held at the Santa Clara Hyatt Hotel on June 22 – 24. See here for information on how to attend.

To give a donation to SETI, see their website.

Fragments of Meteorite Worth Their Weight in Gold

Fragments collected from the April 22 fireball over central California. (Franck Marchis)


Actually it’s more like 3.5 times their weight in gold, according to today’s market value… and meteorite experts from SETI and NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center.

During the daylight hours of April 22, 2012, reports came in from all over the north central California area of an extremely bright fireball — described as a “glittering sparkler” — and accompanying loud explosion. It was soon determined that this was the result of a meteoroid about the size of a minivan entering the atmosphere and disintegrating. It was later estimated that the object weighed about 70 metric tons and detonated with a 5-kiloton force.

Read more about the California fireball event here.

Over a thousand meteorite hunters scrambled to the area, searching for any traces of the cosmic visitor’s remains. After a few days, several pieces of the meteorite were found and reported by five individuals, adding up to 46 grams in total.

Those pieces could be worth over $9,000 USD, according to Bill Cooke of NASA’s Meteoroid Environment Office at Marshall Space Flight Center.

Based on today’s market, that’s about 3.6 times the value of gold (about $1,660 per troy ounce — 31.1 grams).

The high value is due to the extreme rarity of the meteorite fragments. The California fireball is now known to have been created by a CM chondrite, a type of carbonaceous meteorite with material characteristics similar to comets.

SETI Institute's Franck Marchis and the chondrite fragments (F. Marchis)

According to Franck Marchis, Planetary Astronomer at the Carl Sagan Center of the SETI Institute and one of the coordinators of the meteorite reporting teams, CM chondrites appear to have been altered by water, and have deuterium-to-hydrogen ratios in line with what’s been measured in the tails of comets Halley and Hyakutake.

They also have been found to contain organic compounds and amino acids, lending to the hypothesis that such meteorites may have helped supply early Earth with the building blocks for life.

But due to their fragile composition, they are also incredibly rare. Only 1% of known meteorites are CM chondrites, making even the small handful of fragments found in California very valuable.

“This will be only the third observed CM fall in the US, after Crescent, OK, in 1936, (78 g) and Murray, KY, in 1950 (13 kg),” Marchis told Universe Today.

As far as what the finders will do with the fragments, that’s entirely up to them.

“They can sell them on eBay or they can lend them to the scientists… or make a donation.” Marchis said.

Just goes to show that all that glitters really isn’t gold — it could be even better.

Read more in an article by Sara Reardon on New Scientist, and read more on the comet/chondrite connection here. And the ongoing search for pieces of what’s now being referred to as the “Sutter’s Mill Meteorite” can be followed here and here.

The largest CM chondrite ever recovered was from a fall in Murchison, Australia on September 28, 1969. The total mass of its collected fragments weighed in at over 100 kg (220 lbs).

35 Years Later, the ‘Wow!’ Signal Still Tantalizes

The "Wow!" signal. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Since the SETI program first began searching for possible alien radio signals a few decades ago, there have been many false alarms but also instances of fleeting signals of interest which disappeared again as quickly as they had appeared. If a potential signal doesn’t repeat itself so it can be more carefully observed, then it is virtually impossible to determine whether it is of truly cosmic origin. One such signal in particular caught astronomers’ interest on August 15, 1977. The famous “Wow!” signal was detected by the Big Ear Radio Observatory at Ohio State University; it was thirty times stronger than the background noise but lasted only 72 seconds and was never heard again despite repeated subsequent searches.

In a new book titled The Elusive Wow, amateur astronomer Robert Gray chronicles the quest for the answer to this enduring puzzle.

When the signal was first seen in the data, it was so pronounced that SETI scientist Jerry Ehman circled it on the computer printouts in red ink and wrote “Wow!” next to it. It appeared to fit the criteria for an extraterrestrial radio signal, but because it wasn’t heard again, the follow-up studies required to either confirm or deny this were not possible. So what was it about the signal that made it so interesting?

First, it did appear to be an artificial radio signal, rather than a natural radio emission such as a pulsar or quasar. The Big Ear telescope used a receiver with 50 radio channels; the signal was only heard on one frequency, with no other noise on any of the other channels. A natural emission would cause static to appear on all of the frequencies, and this was not the case. The signal was narrow and focused, as would be expected from an artificial source.

The Big Ear Radio Observatory. Credit: Big Ear Radio Observatory / North American AstroPhysical Observatory / Ohio State University

The signal also “rose and fell” during the 72 seconds, as would be expected from something originating in space. When the radio telescope is pointed at the sky, any such signal will appear to increase in intensity as it first moves across the observational beam of the telescope, then peak when the telescope is pointed straight at it and then decrease as it moves away from the telescope. This also makes a mere computer glitch a less likely explanation, although not impossible.

What about satellites? This would seem to be an obvious possible explanation, but as Gray notes, a satellite would have to be moving at just the right distance and at just the right speed, to mimic an alien signal. But then why wasn’t it observed again? An orbiting satellite will broadcast its signal repeatedly. The signal was observed near the 1420 MHz frequency, a “protected spectrum” in which terrestrial transmitters are forbidden to transmit as it is reserved for astronomical purposes.

There may be a bias in thinking that any alien signals will be like ours which leak out to space continuously, ie. all of our radio and TV broadcasts. That is, “normal” radio emissions from every-day type technologies which could easily be seen on an ongoing basis. But what if they were something more like beacons, sent out intentionally but only on a periodic basis? As Gray explains, radio searches to date have tended to look at many different spots in the sky, but they will only examine any particular spot for a few minutes or so before moving on to the next. A periodic signal could easily be missed completely, or if seen, it may be a long time before it is seen again.

Of course, it is also possible that any other civilizations out there might not even use radio at all, especially if they are more advanced than us (while other intelligent life might be behind us, as well). A newer branch of SETI is now searching for artificial sources of light, like laser beams, used as beacons.

So where does this leave us? The “Wow!” signal still hasn’t been adequately explained, although various theories have been proposed over the years. Perhaps one day it will be observed again, or another one like it, and we will be able to solve the mystery. Until then, it remains a curiosity, a tantalizing hint of what a definite signal from an extraterrestrial civilization might look like.

More information is available at the Big Ear Radio Observatory website.

Do Alien Civilizations Inevitably ‘Go Green’?

Beautiful view of our Milky Way Galaxy. If other alien civilizations are out there, can we find them? Credit: ESO/S. Guisard


In the famous words of Arthur C. Clarke, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” This phrase is often quoted to express the idea that an alien civilization which may be thousands or millions of years older than us would have technology so far ahead of ours that to us it would appear to be “magic.”

Now, a variation of that thought has come from Canadian science fiction writer Karl Schroeder, who posits that “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from nature.” The reasoning is that if a civilization manages to exist that long, it would inevitably “go green” to such an extent that it would no longer leave any detectable waste products behind. Its artificial signatures would blend in with those of the natural universe, making it much more difficult to detect them by simply searching for artificial constructs versus natural ones.

The idea has been proposed as an explanation for why we haven’t found them yet, based on the premise that such advanced societies would have visited and colonized our entire galaxy by now (known as the Fermi Paradox). The question becomes more interesting in light of the fact that astronomers now estimate that there are billions of other planets in our galaxy alone. If a civilization reaches such a “balance with nature” as a natural progression, it may mean that traditional methods of searching for them, like SETI, will ultimately fail. Of course, it is possible, perhaps even likely, that civilizations much older than us would have advanced far beyond radio technology anyway. SETI itself is based on the assumption that some of them may still be using that technology. Another branch of SETI is searching for light pulses such as intentional beacons as opposed to radio signals.

But even other alternate searches, such as SETT (Search for Extraterrestrial Technology), may not pan out either, if this new scenario is correct. SETT looks for things like the spectral signature of nuclear fission waste being dumped into a star, or leaking tritium from alien fusion powerplants.

Another solution to the Fermi Paradox states that advanced civilizations will ultimately destroy themselves. Before they do though, they could have already sent out robotic probes to many places in the galaxy. If those probes were technologically savvy enough to self-replicate, they could have spread themselves widely across the cosmos. If there were any in our solar system, we could conceivably find them. Yet this idea could also come back around to the new hypothesis – if these probes were advanced enough to be truly “green” and not leave any environmental traces, they might be a lot harder to find, blending in with natural objects in the solar system.

It’s an intriguing new take on an old question. It can also be taken as a lesson – if we can learn to survive our own technological advances long enough, we can ultimately become more of a green civilization ourselves, co-existing comfortably with the natural universe around us.

Analysis of the First Kepler SETI Observations

Example of signals KOI 817 and KOI 812. Credit: The Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence at UC Berkeley


As the Kepler space telescope begins finding its first Earth-sized exoplanets, with the ultimate goal of finding ones that are actually Earth-like, it would seem natural that the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) program would take a look at them as well, in the continuing search for alien radio signals. That is exactly what SETI scientists are doing, and they’ve started releasing some of their preliminary results.

They are processing the data taken by Kepler since early 2011; some interesting signals have been found (a candidate signal is referred to as a Kepler Object of Interest or KOI), but as they are quick to point out, these signals so far can all be explained by terrestrial interference. If a single signal comes from multiple positions in the sky, as these ones do, it is most likely to be interference.

They do, however, also share characteristics which would be expected of alien artificial signals.

A couple of examples are from KOI 817 and KOI 812. They are of a very narrow frequency, as would be expected from a signal of artificial origin. They also change in frequency over time, due to the doppler effect – the motion of the alien signal source relative to the radio telescope on Earth. If a signal is found with these characteristics but also does not appear to be just interference, that would be a good candidate for an actual artificial signal of extraterrestrial origin.

These are only the results of the first observations and many more will come during the next weeks and months.

Looking for signals has always been like looking for a needle in the cosmic haystack; until now we were searching pretty much blind, starting even before we knew if there were any other planets out there or not. What if our solar system was the only one? Now we know that it is only one of many, with new estimates of billions of planets in our galaxy alone, based on early Kepler data. Plus the fact that the majority of those are thought to be smaller, rocky worlds like Earth, Mars, etc. How many of them are actually habitable is still an open question, but finding them narrows down the search, providing more probable actual targets to turn the radio telescopes toward instead of just trying to search billions of stars overall.

All twelve signal examples so far can be downloaded here (PDF).

SETI to Resume Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence; Will Target Kepler Data

The Allen Telescope Array. Image Credit: SETI Institute

After being shut down for over six months due to financial problems, The Allen Telescope Array (ATA) is once again searching other planetary systems for radio signals, looking for evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence.

Some of the first targets in SETI’s renewed search will be a selection of recently discovered exoplanet candidates by NASA’s Kepler mission.

“This is a superb opportunity for SETI observations,” said Dr. Jill Tarter, the Director of the Center for SETI Research at the SETI Institute. “For the first time, we can point our telescopes at stars, and know that those stars actually host planetary systems – including at least one that begins to approximate an Earth analog in the habitable zone around its host star. That’s the type of world that might be home to a civilization capable of building radio transmitters.”

What other studies will SETI be performing with the array, and how were they able to restart the Allen Telescope Array?

This past April, SETI was forced to place the ATA into hibernation mode, due to budget cuts of SETI’s former partner, U.C Berkeley. Since Berkeley operated Hat Creek Observatory where the ATA is located, their withdrawal from the program left SETI without a way to operate the ATA.

SETI has since acquired new funding to operate the ATA and can now resume observations where they left off – examining planetary candidates detected by the Kepler mission. The planetary candidates SETI will examine first will be those that are thought to be in their star’s habitable zone (the range of orbital distance from a planet’s host star which may allow for surface water). Many astrobiologists theorize that liquid water is essential for life to exist on a planet.

“In SETI, as with all research, preconceived notions such as habitable zones could be barriers to discovery.” Tarter added. “So, with sufficient future funding from our donors, it’s our intention to examine all of the planetary systems found by Kepler.”

SETI will spend the next two years observing the planetary systems detected by Kepler in the naturally-quiet 1 to 10 GHz terrestrial microwave window. Part of what makes this comprehensive study possible is that the ATA can provide ready access to tens of millions of channels at any one time.

Resuming ATA operations was made possible due to tremendous public support via SETI’s web site. In addition to the funds raised by the public, the United States Air Force has also provided funding to SETI in order to assess the ATA’s capabilities for space situational awareness.

Tarter notes, “Kepler’s success has created an amazing opportunity to focus SETI research. While discovery of new exoplanets via Kepler is backed with government monies, the search for evidence that some of these worlds might be home to intelligence falls to SETI alone. And our SETI exploration depends entirely on private donations, for which we are deeply grateful to our donors.”

“The year-in and year-out fundraising challenge we tackle in order to conduct SETI research is an absolute human and organizational struggle,” said Tom Pierson, CEO of the SETI Institute, “yet it is well worth the hard work to help Jill’s team address what is one of humanity’s most profound research questions.”

Dr. Tarter will be presenting during the first Kepler Science Conference (at NASA Ames Research Center) from December 5 to 9, 2011. You can view the agenda for the meeting, along with the abstract for her talk on Earth analogs at:

If you’d like to learn more about SETI, or would like to make a donation to help fund their efforts, visit:

Read more about SETI’s partnership with the United States Air Force at:

Source: SETI Institute press release

Planetary Habitability Index Proposes A Less “Earth-Centric” View In Search Of Life

Artist concept of an exoplanet. Credit: David A. Hardy.


It’s a given. It won’t be long until human technology will expand our repertoire of cataloged exoplanets to astronomical levels. Of these, a huge number will be considered within the “habitable zone”. However, isn’t it a bit egotistical of mankind to assume that life should be “as we know it”? Now astrobiologists/scientists like Dirk Schulze-Makuch with the Washington State University School of Earth and Environmental Sciences and Abel Mendez from the University of Puerto Rico at Aricebo are suggesting we take a less limited point of view.

“In the next few years, the number of catalogued exoplanets will be counted in the thousands. This will vastly expand the number of potentially habitable worlds and lead to a systematic assessment of their astrobiological potential. Here, we suggest a two-tiered classification scheme of exoplanet habitability.” says Schulze-Makuch (et al). “The first tier consists of an Earth Similarity Index (ESI), which allows worlds to be screened with regard to their similarity to Earth, the only known inhabited planet at this time.”

Right now, an international science team representing NASA, SETI,the German Aerospace Center, and four universities are ready to propose two major questions dealing with our quest for life – both as we assume and and alternate. According to the WSU news release:

“The first question is whether Earth-like conditions can be found on other worlds, since we know empirically that those conditions could harbor life,” Schulze-Makuch said. “The second question is whether conditions exist on exoplanets that suggest the possibility of other forms of life, whether known to us or not.”

Within the next couple of weeks, Schulze-Makuch and his nine co-authors will publish a paper in the Astrobiology journal outlining their future plans for exoplanet classification. The double approach will consist of an Earth Similarity Index (ESI), which will place these newly found worlds within our known parameters – and a Planetary Habitability Index (PHI), that will account for more extreme conditions which could support surrogate subsistence.

“The ESI is based on data available or potentially available for most exoplanets such as mass, radius, and temperature.” explains the team. “For the second tier of the classification scheme we propose a Planetary Habitability Index (PHI) based on the presence of a stable substrate, available energy, appropriate chemistry, and the potential for holding a liquid solvent. The PHI has been designed to minimize the biased search for life as we know it and to take into account life that might exist under more exotic conditions.”

Assuming that life could only exist on Earth-like planets is simply narrow-minded thinking, and the team’s proposal and modeling efforts will allow them to judiciously filter new discoveries with speed and high level of probability. It will allow science to take a broader look at what’s out there – without being confined to assumptions.

“Habitability in a wider sense is not necessarily restricted to water as a solvent or to a planet circling a star,” the paper’s authors write. “For example, the hydrocarbon lakes on Titan could host a different form of life. Analog studies in hydrocarbon environments on Earth, in fact, clearly indicate that these environments are habitable in principle. Orphan planets wandering free of any central star could likewise conceivably feature conditions suitable for some form of life.”

Of course, the team admits an alien diversity is surely a questionable endeavor – but why risk the chance of discovery simply on the basis that it might not happen? Why put a choke-hold on creative thinking?

“Our proposed PHI is informed by chemical and physical parameters that are conducive to life in general,” they write. “It relies on factors that, in principle, could be detected at the distance of exoplanets from Earth, given currently planned future (space) instrumentation.”

Original News Source: WSU News. For Further Reading: A Two-Tiered Approach to Assessing the Habitability of Exoplanets.

No Alien Visits or UFO Coverups, White House Says

Movie poster from 'Independence Day.' Credit: 20th Century Fox


The White House has responded to two petitions asking the US government to formally acknowledge that aliens have visited Earth and to disclose to any intentional withholding of government interactions with extraterrestrial beings. “The U.S. government has no evidence that any life exists outside our planet, or that an extraterrestrial presence has contacted or engaged any member of the human race,” said Phil Larson from the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy, on the website. “In addition, there is no credible information to suggest that any evidence is being hidden from the public’s eye.”

5,387 people had signed the petition for immediately disclosing the government’s knowledge of and communications with extraterrestrial beings, and 12,078 signed the request for a formal acknowledgement from the White House that extraterrestrials have been engaging the human race.

“Hundreds of military and government agency witnesses have come forward with testimony confirming this extraterrestrial presence,” the second petition states. “Opinion polls now indicate more than 50% of the American people believe there is an extraterrestrial presence and more than 80% believe the government is not telling the truth about this phenomenon. The people have a right to know. The people can handle the truth.”

These petitions come from an Obama Administration initiative called ‘We the People’ which has White House staffers respond and consider taking action on any issue that receives at least 25,000 online signatures. Regarding these two petitions, the White House promised to respond if the petitions got 17,000 or more signatures by Oct. 22.

Larson stressed that the facts show that there is no credible evidence of extraterrestrial presence here on Earth. He pointed out that even though many scientists have come to the conclusion that the odds of life somewhere else in the Universe are fairly high, the chance that any of them are making contact with humans are extremely small, given the distances involved.

But that doesn’t mean we aren’t searching, there is just no evidence yet. Larson mentioned SETI (correctly noting that this at first was a NASA effort, but is now funded privately) keeping an “ear” out for signals from any intelligent extraterrestrials, with none found so far. He also added that the Kepler spacecraft is searching for Earth-like planets in the habitable zones around other stars, and that the Curiosity rover will launch to Mars this month to “assess what the Martian environment was like in the past to see if it could have harbored life.”

Regarding any evidence for alien life, all anyone has now is “statistics and speculation,” said Larson. “The fact is we have no credible evidence of extraterrestrial presence here on Earth.”

Whether or not this will appease or satisfy any conspiracy theorists or UFO believers is yet to be seen, but it is gratifying to see the White House respond in such a no-nonsense manner.

UPDATE: The Paradigm Research Group, one of the organizations sponsoring the petitions, has issued a statement saying, “As expected it was written by a low level staffer from the Office of Science and Technology Policy – research assistant Phil Larson. The response was unacceptable.”

See the petitions and the response at the website.

Hat Tip: NASA Watch

Fundraising for Aliens

Allen Telescope Array. Credit: SETI


SETI, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence suffered a big blow in April of this year when the primary alien search engine –the Allen Telescope Array (ATA) in northern California — was put into “hibernation” due to lack of funds. But now you can help get the ATA back online through a crowdsourcing effort called SETIstars. Similar to fundraising efforts like KickStarter, SETIstars is working to raise enough money to bring the telescope array online again and provide operating costs for at least one year. The goal is to raise $200,000.

As of this writing, nearly $30,000 has been raised already.

While the ATA is not the only radio telescope that can be used for SETI searches, it was the observatory that was primarily used for that task. The funding crisis occured when state and the National Science Foundation contributions were significantly cut.

SETIstars is an initiative by the SETI Institute to rally support from the community to help fund the SETI Institute’s operations and that of the Allen Telescope Array. SETIstars has clearly defined fundraising goals, and will recognize supporters and contributors to the SETI Institute — both financial and non-financial.

“We are starting with a simple site with a clear mandate: raise funds from the community to help bring the ATA back on line,” says the SETIstars website. “But this is just the beginning…Bringing the ATA back online is a critical first step. However, sustaining operations is also of vital importance. SETIstars will be a rallying point for future community engagement and fundraising efforts.”

Here’s your chance to allow SETI scientists to start listening for signals from space again, especially in the region in space where Kepler has found a boatload of exoplanets. Your donations are tax free (in the US) since SETI is a nonprofit institution. International donors should contact their government for information on tax deductions for charitable gifts to U.S. based charities.

So, go donate. Do it.