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How SETI Works

The Future of SETI

It appears that the public is greatly interested in SETI research, if interest can be gauged from the monetary support of private foundations like the SETI Institute and the SETI League and participation in SETI@home. The future of SETI looks bright, with developments in the following areas:

  • New SETI programs will exploit other areas of the radio spectrum, such as the microwave regions.
  • With the technological advancements in personal-computing power and the Internet, there will probably be more participation in SETI@home, as well as the development of other distributing-power computing programs.
  • New radio telescopes, like the Allen Telescope Array, will be built for exclusive SETI research.
  • Using relatively inexpensive, off-the-shelf technologies such as satellite dishes, computers and electronic equipment, amateurs can implement their own SETI programs. One such amateur program is Project BAMBI (Bob and Mike's Big Investment).
  • Because ET might send light signals as well as or instead of radio signals, more optical SETI programs may spring up. To look for light signals from ET around sun-like stars, it may be best to look in the infrared portion of the spectrum, where the star's background light may be less obtrusive, as shown below: Spectrum of light from a sun-like star, showing where visible and infrared laser beacons would shine above the background light. One such optical SETI program is called COSETI (Columbus Optical SETI).

The possibility of intelligent life existing elsewhere in the universe has intrigued humanity for thousands of years. We are currently at a time when our technology has advanced enough for us to detect signals from ET and even broadcast our own signals to the stars. With the advancements in technology and the increasing interest in SETI, we may be close to finding the answer to that age-old question, "Does intelligent life exist out there?"