The SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute has launched a new website, which invites anyone to log on and help analyze signals from space that could provide evidence of intelligent alien life in the universe.
SETI Live provides data gathered by the Institute's Allen Telescope Array, which scans sections of space for radio frequency signals. Web users can log on to the site and help analyze the data, sifting through signals for evidence of an extraterrestrial civilization.
There are parts of the spectrum where our sophisticated signal processing system is overwhelmed because there are so many signals, said astronomer Jill Tarter, director of the Center for SETI Research, in an interview with Space.com. I'm hoping to put together this army of citizen scientists to help figure out which signals to follow up on.
Essentially, human eyes are needed to pick up on subtle patterns that might be overlooked by SETI computer algorithms.
The people that will do the best at this are going to be people whose pattern skills are such that they can ignore the bright pattern that's so easy to detect and look to see that there's something else there, something fainter, and see if they can in fact discover this needle that's buried under the hay, Tarter told Space.com.
SETI Live came out of the TED Prize program, which awards $100,000 every year to an exceptional individual with One Wish to Change the World.
Tarter won the prize in 2009, revealing her wish to to empower Earthlings everywhere to become active participants in the ultimate search for cosmic company. Her wish developed into SETI Live.
SETI Institute scientists have been searching for signs of intelligent alien life since the 1960s, but have yet to find anything. With the discovery of 700 extra-solar planets, the search for extraterrestrial life has become much more targeted in these regions of space.