Citizen Science

“Are We Alone In The Universe?” Project Marks A Major Milestone

By Keith Cowing
Press Release
December 20, 2023
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“Are We Alone In The Universe?” Project Marks A Major Milestone
The Science and Communications team of the “Are we alone in the universe?” project. From left to right: Ella, Jay, Megan, Jeremy, Priscella, Jean-Luc. Not pictured: Liam. — NASA

Are we alone in the universe? About 30,000 volunteers want to know! These volunteers visited to sift through a vast data set from the 100-meter Green Bank Telescope—inspecting it for signals that might indicate intelligent extraterrestrial life. As of this week, this giant team has made one million inspections!

“We are thrilled that our volunteers have accomplished so much in the short ten-month period since our launch,” said project PI Jean-Luc Margot.

It’s a significant milestone, to be sure. But does that mean this search is over? Not even close. The Green Bank Telescope collects millions of signals per hour! So UCLA graduate student Megan Li is building on the volunteer-submitted data to design and train a machine learning application that will help tackle that enormous data rate. She will present her preliminary results at the January 2024 American Astronomical Society meeting.

Thank you to everyone who has volunteered already. The tenth batch of UCLA SETI data is live on the platform, and the project can still use your help! Moreover, thanks to volunteer translators, the project is now available in French (translated by Louis Verhaeghe) and in Portuguese (translated by Fernando Nogal).

“Are we alone in the universe?” was built by UCLA SETI on the Zooniverse platform with funding from The Planetary Society and the NASA Citizen Science Seed Funding Program.

Astrobiology, SETI, Citizen Science,

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) 🖖🏻