SETI Institute

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The SETI Institute is a private, nonprofit organization located in Mountain View, California between Silicon Valley and San Francisco. Scientists in the Carl Sagan Center at the SETI Institute address questions such as:

  • How many planets exist that might support life?
  • What is required for life to exist?
  • How does life start?
  • How does it evolve, and what fabulous creatures can evolution produce?
  • How often do intelligent creatures appear in the giant tapestry of life?

It is exactly these questions that are being addressed by the scientists of the Carl Sagan Center for the Study of Life in the Universe. The center brings together leading researchers in astrobiology, the study of life in the universe. Astrobiology uses modern science to seek answers to the age-old questions: Where did we come from? And are we alone?

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The SETI Institute team focuses on a wide set of disciplines ranging from observing and modeling the precursors of life in the depths of outer space to studies of Earth and its rich biological history. They seek to understand the concept of habitability, on our planet and elsewhere in the solar system. Many of our scientists participate as investigators in NASA space flight missions, as observers on some of the world’s finest telescopes, and as explorers probing life in inhospitable environments, including the Arctic, Antarctic, high mountains and the depths of the sea. Appropriate to the sweeping scope of this research, we have many partners including NASA, the National Science Foundation, and major universities.

What type of work is done at the SETI Institute?

The Institute is comprised of 3 centers, the Center for SETI Research led by Dr. Jill Tarter, the Carl Sagan Center for the Study of Life in the Universe led by Dr. David Morrison and the Center for Education and Public Outreach led by Edna DeVore. Research at the Center for SETI Research utilizes the Allen Telescope Array (pictured left) near Mt. Shasta, California to listen for signs of intelligent life in the universe. Research and development efforts at the Center for SETI Research 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.

Previous Summer Research Includes:

Where is the SETI Institute?

Please note that SETI Institute Fellowships may be located at NASA Ames or other research centers identified by your Principal Investigator.