The search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) is a collective term for the scientific search for intelligent extraterrestrial life. For example, monitoring electromagnetic radiation for signs of transmissions from civilizations on other worlds.


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

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

Founded in November 1984, the SETI Institute began operations on February 1, 1985. Today it employs over 130 scientists, educators and support staff. Research at the Institute is anchored by three centers, the Center for Education, the Carl Sagan Center for the study of life in the universe, and the Center for Public Outreach.

Breakthrough Listen
Breakthrough Listen is the largest ever scientific research program aimed at finding evidence of civilizations beyond Earth. The scope and power of the search are on an unprecedented scale:
The program includes a survey of the 1,000,000 closest stars to Earth. It scans the center of our galaxy and the entire galactic plane. Beyond the Milky Way, it listens for messages from the 100 closest galaxies to ours.The instruments used are among the world’s most powerful. They are 50 times more sensitive than existing telescopes dedicated to the search for intelligence.

Breakthrough Starshot
Breakthrough Starshot aims to demonstrate proof of concept for ultra-fast light-driven nanocrafts, and lay the foundations for a first launch to Alpha Centauri within the next generation. Along the way, the project could generate important supplementary benefits to astronomy, including solar system exploration and detection of Earth-crossing asteroids. A number of hard engineering challenges remain to be solved before these missions can become a reality.


SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) is a scientific area whose goal is to detect intelligent life outside Earth. One approach, known as radio SETI, uses radio telescopes to listen for narrow-bandwidth radio signals from space. Such signals are not known to occur naturally, so a detection would provide evidence of extraterrestrial technology.
Radio telescope signals consist primarily of noise (from celestial sources and the receiver’s electronics) and man-made signals such as TV stations, radar, and satellites. Modern radio SETI projects analyze the data digitally. More computing power enables searches to cover greater frequency ranges with more sensitivity. Radio SETI, therefore, has an insatiable appetite for computing power.

Previous radio SETI projects have used special-purpose supercomputers, located at the telescope, to do the bulk of the data analysis. In 1995, David Gedye proposed doing radio SETI using a virtual supercomputer composed of large numbers of Internet-connected computers, and he organized the SETI@home project to explore this idea. SETI@home was originally launched in May 1999.

Founded in 1994 in response to the United States Congress cancellation of the NASA SETI program, The SETI League, Inc. is a membership-supported nonprofit organization with 1,500 members in 62 countries. This grass-roots alliance of amateur and professional radio astronomers is headed by executive director emeritus H. Paul Shuch, the engineer credited with developing the world’s first commercial home satellite TV receiver. Many SETI League members are licensed radio amateurs and microwave experimenters. Others are digital signal processing experts and computer enthusiasts. The SETI League pioneered the conversion of backyard satellite TV dishes 3 to 5 m (10–16 ft) in diameter into research-grade radio telescopes of modest sensitivity.