Our Vision

The PLANETS Foundation wants to excite, educate and engage you in a direct optical search for life outside of the solar system. We invite you to participate in our program that culminates with an exolife “census” of the nearest 100 exoplanets. Learn more now, by joining us in weekly online conversations with the scientists and engineers who are talking about the latest exoplanet news, and technologies that will see the exolife ecology within 30 light years of the Earth. Also, browse our on-line collection of talks, papers, and images.

Who We Are

PLANETS Foundation - Founding MembersThe PLANETS organization was started by a small international group of academic scientists. It now includes members from Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Mexico, and the US — and we’re halfway built, and $2.5M spent toward the PLANETS telescope. In 24 months this will be the first demonstration instrument on a path to the ExoLife Finder (ELF), and the Colossus Telescopes — optical instruments powerful enough to reveal continents on Proxima B, and finally, the heat signatures of advanced life on several hundred exoplanets. The PLANETS Foundation was formed this year with the mission of advocating and accelerating exolife studies while engaging public members and any interested citizen scientists.
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Recent News Stories!

New telescope proposed for Valley Isle

star-advertiserNovember 22, 2016: The University of Hawaii is proposing another cutting-edge mountaintop astronomy facility — this time the world’s highest-contrast optical telescope — but instead of creating a new imposing structure like the Thirty Meter Telescope or the Inouye solar telescope, it would simply replace an old one. Full Article…

This Telescope Will Probe Alien Atmospheres

space-logo September 8, 2016: We’ve got observatories in space and observatories on the ground. We’ve got plenty of evidence of rocky planets in the habitable regions of their respective stars. What we’re missing, though, is information about these planets’ atmospheres. A group of astronomers now hope to fill this gap in our knowledge. Full Article…

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Life on PLANETS: Weekly Live Streams

Join the us every week EDT for interesting conversations about stars, exoplanets, and exo-life. Each week we debate and speculate on the various ways we might detect/find life in the Universe. Stay tuned, stay informed and stay enthused!

Archived events and the schedule of future events can be found at on our Life on PLANETS Events Page.

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Our 10-Year Technology Roadmap

Our 10-year roadmap starts with new ideas that will make telescope-like instruments that are lighter and much less costly than the Keck-era large telescopes that astronomers need for seeing, for example, distant galaxies. You can read about these technologies in more detail in these web pages and in our published papers.

Our first step down this path is what we call the “PLANETS” telescope — an acronym that stands for “Polarized Light from Atmospheres of Nearby ExtraTerrestrial Systems.” While this instrument is unlikely to find “exo-life” it is a test of “low scattered light off-axis optics” and “thin mirror technology.” It will become a building block of the much larger Colossus project.

The PLANETS telescope mirror is 90% polished and the mechanical designs for its unusual structural, off-axis components are waiting to be built. So far, it has been funded by academic University groups like the Tohoku University (Japan), the Institute for Astronomy (Hawaii), and the Kiepenheuer Institute (Germany). It could be completed in less than two years with funding to finish the dome and building structure.

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PLANETS Foundation Membership

Our membership gives you the opportunity to pledge your support at any level. Click the button below to see how you can directly support exoplanetary research and the creation of our telescopes to find life in the Universe.

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The SETI Network


The search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) is a collective term for the scientific search for intelligent extraterrestrial life and is comprised of a large international community. There are many initiatives like monitoring electromagnetic radiation for signs of transmissions from civilizations on other worlds (SETI Institute) to sending ultra-fast lightweight nano-crafts to Proxima b (Breakthrough Starshot). Scientific investigation of listening for advanced life began shortly after the advent of radio in the early 1900s. Focused international efforts to answer a variety of scientific questions related to SETI have been going on since the 1980s. To learn more about the current initiatives and projects for the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, click the learn more button below.

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