SETI & Technosignatures

Searches for Technosignatures: The State of the Profession

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
July 19, 2019
Filed under
Searches for Technosignatures: The State of the Profession

The search for life in the universe is a major theme of astronomy and astrophysics for the next decade.

Searches for technosignatures are complementary to searches for biosignatures, in that they offer an alternative path to discovery, and address the question of whether complex (i.e. technological) life exists elsewhere in the Galaxy. This approach has been endorsed in prior Decadal Reviews and National Academies reports, and yet the field still receives almost no federal support in the US. Because of this lack of support, searches for technosignatures, precisely the part of the search of greatest public interest, suffers from a very small pool of trained practitioners.

A major source of this issue is institutional inertia at NASA, which avoids the topic as a result of decades-past political grandstanding, conflation of the effort with non-scientific topics such as UFOs, and confusion regarding the scope of the term “SETI.” The Astro2020 Decadal should address this issue by making developing the field an explicit priority for the next decade. It should recommend that NASA and the NSF support training and curricular development in the field in a way that supports equity and diversity, and make explicit calls for proposals to fund searches for technosignatures.

Jason T. Wright
(Submitted on 18 Jul 2019)

Comments: Submitted as an APC white paper to the Astro2020 Decadal process
Subjects: Instrumentation and Methods for Astrophysics (astro-ph.IM); Earth and Planetary Astrophysics (astro-ph.EP)
Cite as: arXiv:1907.07832 [astro-ph.IM] (or arXiv:1907.07832v1 [astro-ph.IM] for this version)
Submission history
From: Jason Wright
[v1] Thu, 18 Jul 2019 01:29:32 UTC (379 KB)
SETI, Astrobiology

Explorers Club Fellow, ex-NASA Space Station Payload manager/space biologist, Away Teams, Journalist, Lapsed climber, Synaesthete, Na’Vi-Jedi-Freman-Buddhist-mix, ASL, Devon Island and Everest Base Camp veteran, (he/him) 🖖🏻