Click here to bypass page layout and jump directly to story.=

UC Berkeley >

University of California

News - Media Relations






  Press Releases

  Image Downloads



SETI@home teams with The Planetary Society and Project Voyager to continue search for intelligent signals from space
08 Aug 2000

Contact: Robert Sanders, Media Relations

Berkeley - The University of California, Berkeley's SETI@home project, scheduled to shut down next year, has a new lease on life thanks to a large gift from The Planetary Society.

SETI@homeThe gift will allow the project, which harnesses millions of desktop computers to search for intelligent signals from space, to enhance its scope and increase its search capability to include regions visible only from the southern hemisphere, said project director David Anderson.

The money comes from The Planetary Society through a unique alliance with Project Voyager, a media startup company founded by Sagan's wife and long-time collaborator, Ann Druyan, and internet entrepreneur Joe Firmage. The society was co-founded by the late Carl Sagan and was the first organization to fund SETI@home.

"This partnership will let millions of people keep participating in SETI@home," Anderson said. "The resources of Project Voyager and The Planetary Society will let us take on exciting new project in the areas of education and community-building."

The funding for SETI@home was announced Aug. 8 by The Planetary Society at the same time as an unprecedented new strategic alliance between The Planetary Society and the project temporarily named Project Voyager. Project Voyager is a media venture led by Druyan of Carl Sagan Productions and Firmage of IntendChange.

"The Planetary Society's expanded role enables SETI@home to become bigger and better, and continues two decades of society leadership in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence," said Bruce Murray, president of The Planetary Society. "The Society has supported SETI continuously since 1980 with a dozen different projects around the world."

SETI@home had been scheduled to end in May 2001, but the increased funding will ensure the program's continuation and extend its operations. Already it is the most powerful computer on Earth, and its progress to date is the largest computation ever done.

The idea of linking computers in a global network to analyze radio data from space originated with David Gedye, a UC Berkeley computer science graduate and a former student of Anderson, along with Craig Kasnoff and astronomer Woody Sullivan. Four years ago, with $100,000 from The Planetary Society, in cooperation with Paramount Pictures, Anderson and his colleagues at UC Berkeley's Space Sciences Laboratory began developing the software for the distributed computer project.

The public first got a crack at the software in May of 1999, and, since then, 2.2 million people have signed up and downloaded the software. The data they analyze comes from a radio telescope at Arecibo, Puerto Rico, which scans the sky daily and sends the radio data back to UC Berkeley. There, it is broken up into chunks and delivered to home computers for analysis. SETI@home chief scientist Dan Werthimer and his UC Berkeley colleagues operate the 22-year-old Arecibo project, called SERENDIP (Search for Extraterrestrial Radio Emissions from Nearby Developed Intelligent Populations).

In the next couple of years, Anderson and Werthimer hope to analyze radio data from a telescope in the southern hemisphere, complementing the northern hemisphere data from Arecibo.

Other major funders for SETI@home have been Sun Microsystems, which donated computing equipment, and the University of California, which provided matching funds of $300,000 from its Digital Media Innovation Program. Additional sponsors include Quantum Corp., Fuji Film Computer Products, Informix and The SETI Institute.

While Project Voyager will help fund the society's programs, The Planetary Society will provide cutting-edge science content to Project Voyager's Web site. The Society and Project Voyager also plan to develop innovative educational material about the project, SETI in general, and the new field of astrobiology.




The Planetary Society

Project Voyager

Related stories:

SETI@home, UC Berkeley's search for extraterrestrial life, celebrates first anniversary, is named finalist in Computerworld Smithsonian Awards

More than a million people world-wide have signed up with UC Berkeley's SETI@home to search for intelligent life in the universe



UC Berkeley | News | Archives | Extras | Media Relations

Comments? E-mail

Copyright 2000 UC Regents. All rights reserved.