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

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
March 7, 2019
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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.

But the Unistellar eVscope is about more than observing the hidden wonders of the Universe. In partnership with the SETI Institute, this smart, easy-to-use telescope allows users to join a unique citizen-science community where anyone can view special astronomical events in real time while they participate in scientific observation campaigns.

An eVscope user willing to participate to this program will be able to quickly pinpoint an area of the sky and collect data that could be stored and shared. SETI Institute will implement data processing and data analysis algorithms to extract scientific information, like transient events (supernovae, comets, asteroid outburst), as well as the study of potentially hazardous asteroids.

“Space exploration and astronomy represent a powerful source of fascination to the general public and provide a compelling platform for the promotion of STEM and science literacy.” noted SETI Institute CEO, Bill Diamond. “We are delighted to be the Science lead for Unistellar in supporting and promoting the most innovative development in amateur astronomy to come along in decades. We anticipate fabulous opportunities for science outreach and education on a global basis, in addition to a major citizen science program to reveal and unlock new mysteries of the cosmos.”

The Unistellar team, including Franck Marchis, SETI Institute senior planetary astronomer and also co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer at Unistellar will gather at SXSW this week to present the citizen science component of the project at the SXSW Interactive Innovation Awards.

“Unistellar’s ambition is to democratize astronomy” explains Laurent Marfisi, Unistellar’s CEO. “To us, it means revealing the mysterious beauty of galaxies and other distant objects, but also allowing each of us to feel the thrill of scientific discovery by creating a worldwide citizen-astronomy network.”

About the SETI Institute

Founded in 1984, the SETI Institute is a non-profit, multi-disciplinary research and education organization whose mission is to explore, understand, and explain the origin and nature of life in the universe and the evolution of intelligence. Our research encompasses the physical and biological sciences and leverages expertise in data analytics, machine learning and advanced signal detection technologies. The SETI Institute is a distinguished research partner for industry, academia and government agencies, including NASA and NSF.

About Unistellar

Created in 2015, Unistellar is a start-up that makes a revolutionarily powerful digital consumer telescope, the first of its kind to reveal galaxies, nebulae, comets, and much more, in unparalleled crisp and colorful detail. This smart, easy-to-use device allows anyone to contribute to science while observing the hidden wonders of the Universe. The project raised more than $3 million through crowdfunding. More than 2,000 people have already pre-ordered a Unistellar eVscope.