Congress Directs NSF to Provide Report on Arecibo Observatory

Damage sustained at the Arecibo Observatory 305-meter telescope. (Credit: UCF)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Congress has directed that National Science Foundation (NSF) to provide it with a report on the future of the Arecibo Observatory (AO), whose main 305-meter radio telescope collapsed on Dec. 1.

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How Many Habitable Planets are Out There?

Kepler-186f was the first rocky planet to be found within the habitable zone — the region around the host star where the temperature is right for liquid water. This planet is also very close in size to Earth. Even though we may not find out what’s going on at the surface of this planet anytime soon, it’s a strong reminder of why new technologies are being developed that will enable scientists to get a closer look at distant worlds. (Credits: NASA Ames/SETI Institute/JPL-Caltech)

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (SETI Institute PR) – Thanks to new research using data from the Kepler space telescope, it’s estimated that there could be as many as 300 million potentially habitable planets in our galaxy. Some could even be pretty close, with several likely within 30 light-years of our Sun. The findings will be published in The Astronomical Journal, and research was a collaboration of scientists from NASA, the SETI Institute, and other organizations worldwide.

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NRAO, SETI Institute Agree on New Research Programs

SEATTLE (NRAO PR) — The National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) and the SETI Institute have agreed to collaborate on a broad range of future scientific and technical projects in radio astronomy and related research. Initial efforts under the agreement will be focused on developing capabilities for the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) on radio telescopes operated by NRAO.

The two organizations will collaborate to develop and install a signal processing system on the National Science Foundation’s Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) that will analyze data collected by that telescope to identify transmissions possibly generated by extraterrestrial technologies. This system — dubbed COSMIC: the Commensal Open Source Multimode Interferometer Cluster — will receive data from a newly-developed parallel Ethernet interface to the VLA, using the same data stream used for other research but analyzed in parallel by COSMIC.

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New Technologies, Strategies Expanding Search for Extraterrestrial Life

SEATTLE (NRAO PR) — Emerging technologies and new strategies are opening a revitalized era in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI). New discovery capabilities, along with the rapidly-expanding number of known planets orbiting stars other than the Sun, are spurring innovative approaches by both government and private organizations, according to a panel of experts speaking at a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Seattle, Washington.

New approaches will not only expand upon but also go beyond the traditional SETI technique of searching for intelligently-generated radio signals, first pioneered by Frank Drake’s Project Ozma in 1960. Scientists now are designing state-of-the-art techniques to detect a variety of signatures that can indicate the possibility of extraterrestrial technologies. Such “technosignatures” can range from the chemical composition of a planet’s atmosphere, to laser emissions, to structures orbiting other stars, among others.

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Breakthrough Listen’s Search for Intelligent Life Releases Unprecedented Data Survey

SEATTLE, February 14, 2020 (Breakthrough Initiatives PR) – The Breakthrough Listen Initiative today released data from the most comprehensive survey yet of radio emissions from the plane of the Milky Way Galaxy, the region around its central, 4-million-solar-mass black hole, and observations of the interstellar comet 2I/Borisov.

Breakthrough Listen Principal Investigator Andrew Siemion announced the release of the nearly two petabytes of data at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. It marks the second “data dump” from the four-year-old, $100M search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) initiative. A first download of a petabyte of radio and optical telescope data was released in June 2019, marking the largest release of SETI data in the history of the field.

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Breakthrough Listen Publishes Most Comprehensive and Sensitive Search for Radio Technosignatures Ever Performed

Largest Data Set in the History of the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Released to The Public.

Over one thousand stars scanned for signals using Green Bank and Parkes Telescopes; Data released to the astronomical community.

San Francisco (Breakthrough Initiatives PR) — Breakthrough Listen – the astronomical program searching for signs of intelligent life in the Universe – has submitted two publications to leading astrophysics journals, describing the analysis of its first three years of radio observations and the availability of a petabyte of radio and optical telescope data. This represents the largest release of SETI data in the history of its field.

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SETI Institute Signs MOU with Unistellar to Develop and Enhance Citizen Science Network

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., March 7, 2019 (SETI Institute PR) — The SETI Institute, a non-profit scientific institution located in Mountain View, CA and the French company Unistellar, located in Marseille, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that will establish and enhance joint research, outreach and education activities aimed at developing the citizen science network on Unistellar telescopes. The project will be presented at the SXSW Interactive Innovation Awards this week in Austin, TX.

Thanks to its unique light-accumulation technology, the Unistellar eVscope is one hundred times more powerful than standard telescopes. This allows it to take popular astronomy to a level never seen before by finally revealing galaxies, nebulae, comets, and much more, in unparalleled crisp and colorful detail.

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NASA FDL Leverages Public/Private Partnership to Push New Boundaries of Space Science with Artificial Intelligence


AI Accelerator to Focus on Key Challenges in Space Resources, Astrobiology, Space Weather, And Exoplanets to Benefit the Space Program and Humanity

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (SETI Institute/NASA PR) — The NASA Frontier Development Lab (FDL) has announced it will apply artificial intelligence (AI) to four key space challenges. FDL is an AI/machine learning research accelerator powered by a public/private partnership between NASA, the SETI Institute, commercial leaders in AI, and pioneers in the private space industry.

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NASA Selects Honeybee Robotics for Six Small Business Awards

The green oval highlights the plumes Hubble observed on Europa. The area also corresponds to a warm region on Europa’s surface. The map is based on observations by the Galileo spacecraft (Credits: NASA/ESA/STScI/USGS)

Honeybee Robotics will begin developing new technologies that would allow a lander to drill into the icy surface of Jupiter’s moon Europa and collect samples for analysis with the help of a pair of NASA small business awards.

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Elite Team Tackles Deadly Asteroid Threat

Bruce Willis in Armageddon.
Bruce Willis in Armageddon.

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (SETI PR) — A six-week long research accelerator, championed by NASA’s Office of the Chief Technologist and hosted at the SETI Institute, is engaging young researchers from around the world to take on one of the truly existential threats to our species.

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Video: Moon Express’ Bob Richards on a Private Lunar Mission

Video Caption: The health of our home planet and the survival of our species will only be secured through the use of space resources and the expansion of Earth’s economic sphere to the Moon and beyond. Creating an off-Earth economy and multi-planet civilization will safeguard the long term prospects of humanity.

Bob Richards is Co-Founder and CEO of Moon Express, Inc. (MoonEx), a privately funded lunar transportation and space resource development company, striving to become the first commercial company to land on the Moon, a challenge only accomplished by 3 superpowers in history. Located at Cape Canaveral, Moon Express has contracted for 3 launches to the Moon with Rocket Lab between 2017 and 2020, is partnered with NASA under its Lunar CATALYST program, and is one of only two teams in the Google Lunar X PRIZE competition with a verified launch contract.

In this talk Bob Richards outlines Moon Express and it plans to develop lunar resources, and how this goal has set in motion technological, political, legal and regulatory precedents that will allow humanity to rationally and peacefully embrace and develop the Moon as the world’s eighth continent.











Number of Billionaires Investing in Space Projects Grows

Forbes has published its annual list of the planet’s billionaires. A small but growing number of them are either directly supporting major space projects or doing so through the companies that they run.

FORBES RANKNAMEAGE
2015 NET WORTH (BILLIONS)
SOURCE(S) OF WEALTH
SPACE INVESTMENT(S)
 15Jeff Bezos51 $34.8Amazon.comBlue Origin
16Mark Zuckerberg30
 $33.4FacebookGlobal satellite network
19Larry Page41$29.7 GoogleSpaceX, Planetary Resources, Planetary Ventures, Google Lunar X Prize, Skybox
20Sergey Brin 41 $29.2GoogleSpaceX, Planetary Ventures, Google Lunar X Prize, Skybox
43Charles Ergen62$19.8DISH NetworkDISH Network
51Paul Allen62 $17.5 Microsoft, investmentsStratolaunch Systems, SETI, Mojave Aerospace Ventures (SpaceShipOne)
100Elon Musk43$12PayPal, Tesla Motors, SpaceX, SolarCitySpaceX
137Eric Schmidt59$9.1GoogleSpaceX, Google Lunar X Prize, Planetary Ventures, Skybox
330Richard Branson
64$4.8Virgin GroupVirgin Galactic, Planetary Resources, OneWeb
1006Kavitark Ram Shriram58$1.9Google, venture capitalPlanetary Resources
1105H. Ross Perot, Jr.56$1.8 Computer services, real estatePlanetary Resources
1324Charles Simonyi 67$1.4MicrosoftPlanetary Resources
1415Peter Sperling55$1.3University of PhoenixEcliptic Enterprises

I’ve added Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook to the list this year. His company is reportedly working on a global broadband network that would involve satellites, although details of the plan have not been made public.

I’ve left off Cirque du Soleil’s Guy Laliberte, who came in at number 1006 with a net worth of $1.9 billion. Although he once took a trip to the International Space Station, he is not known to be funding any major space projects at the moment.

Update: I’ve added Charles Ergen and Peter Sperling to the list. Big shout out to Rex Ridenoure over at Ecliptic Enterprises.











World View Selects 3 Research Payloads

World View balloon and capsule at altitude. (Credit: World View)
World View balloon and capsule at altitude. (Credit: World View)

San Francisco, CA, July 28, 2014 (World View PR) – World View Enterprises, the commercial spaceflight balloon company, has announced plans to fly research and education payloads during its balloon test flight phase as part of its newly launched Pathfinder program.

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SETI Curiosity Movement Looks to Crowd Source $2 Million

FundRazr_SETI
MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA, June 27, 2013 (FundRazr PR) —
The crowdfunding innovators at FundRazr are proud to announce they are powering PayPal Galactic’s partnership with SETI Institute to crowdfund life on earth, and search for ET (extraterrestrial) life beyond it.

SETI’s Curiosity Movement crowdfunding campaign (http://seti.org/curiositymovement) is changing the way scientific research is funded and completed; FundRazr’s platform is making the exploration of these new frontiers possible.

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Jill Tarter to Retire as SETI Director

Astronomer who inspired Jodie Foster’s character in “Contact” retires as Director of the Center for SETI Research

Astronauts, Scientists and Celebrities to gather in Santa Clara to salute Tarter June 22 – 24

 Mountain View, California (SETI PR) – After thirty-five years of searching the skies for signs of intelligence beyond Earth, astronomer Jill Tarter is turning over the scientific reins to new leadership at the non-profit SETI Institute.  SETI Institute Physicist Gerry Harp will succeed Tarter as Director of Center for SETI Research while Tarter will focus her time on fundraising for SETI research as the Bernard M. Oliver Chair for SETI within the scientific organization.

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