Alien-hunting database set up with SETI data

Scientists have launched an online portal to keep track of the reams of data created by the ongoing search for alien life on distant planets.

TechnoSearch is a website and online portal to help researchers access data from SETI – the project operated by NASA with the goal of finding aliens. 

Jill Tarter, a co-founder of the institute, spearheaded the project which has collated data from as far back as 1960 and continues to add the latest findings.  

The tool also allows users to submit their own searches and keep the database up to edge. 


Dr Jill Tarter, former SETI director, said: ‘I started keeping this search archive when I was a graduate student. 

‘Some of the original papers were presented at conferences, or appear in obscure journals that are difficult for newcomers to the SETI field to access.

‘I’m delighted that we now have a tool that can be used by the entire community and a methodology for keeping it current.’ 

Dr tarter retired from hunting aliens full-time some years ago but her influence at SETI remains large. 

She inspired the character of Ellie Arroway, the fictional character in Carl Sagan’s 1985 science-fiction novel ‘Contact’ which was made into a film in 1997.  

The lead role was played by Jodie Foster. 

TechnoSearch is designed to be a centrepiece for the vast amounts of searches and data collected by SETI. 

Andrew Garcia a SETI student who worked with Dr Tarter on the project, said: ‘I started helping Dr. Tarter with this project as a research opportunity during the summer. 

‘I’ve become convinced that TechnoSearch will become an important instrument for astronomers and amateurs interested in exploring the cosmos for indications of other technological civilisations. 

‘We can’t know where to look for evidence tomorrow if we don’t know where we have already looked. 

‘TechnoSearch will help us chronicle where and how we’ve looked at the sky.’

TechnoSearch tracks information including: Title of the search paper, name(s) of observers, search date, objects observed and which facility carried out the research. 

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