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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 2004 > Feb > Feb 28

Tarter Discusses Search For Aliens

From: Frank Warren <frank-warren.nul>
Date: Sat, 28 Feb 2004 05:17:44 -0800
Fwd Date: Sat, 28 Feb 2004 11:18:53 -0500
Subject: Tarter Discusses Search For Aliens

Source: The Daily Mississippian


February 27, 2004

Tarter Discusses Search For Aliens

by Erin M. Smith
DM Campus News Editor

Renowned scientist Jill Tarter spoke Tuesday at the Ford Center
for the Performing Arts, detailing her role in the search for
extraterrestrial life.

Tarter, director of the once-defunct Search for Extraterrestrial
Intelligence program, described the process in combing through
the expanding universe, exploring the possibility of intelligent

"When we ask ourselves are we the only one in the universe,
we're asking, 'Are there any other intelligent...life in the
universe that wonder if they are alone.'"

The SETI program, which was featured in the 1997 movie
"Contact," written by famed astronomer Carl Sagan, utilizes what
Tarter called "primitive technology" to search for life.

"We are the youngest technology out there," Tarter said,
explaining that if she and her team of scientist make contact,
the signal sent by the extraterrestrial life would be far more

However, to begin her search for the life, Tarter said, she and
her scientists use radio telescopes to find signals emitted by
light, starts and planetary objects.

"The signal from the stars are very, very faint," Tarter said.
"If you take a single cell phone (transmitter) and put the
transmitter on the moon, it is the second strongest signal in
the sky."

With the SETI program, Tarter began searching for the faint
signals in 1975 after she received her doctorate from the
University of California at Berkeley, and when NASA terminated
the program in 1993, Tarter had to find another resource to
continue her love.

"We are rising from the ashes of congressional termination,"
Tarter said.

Tarter and her colleagues created the privately funded Project
Phoenix, a project that uses the largest radio telescope in the
world in Arecibo, Puerto Rico, with another in England to search
for signals simultaneously.

"We haven't yet detected a signal, but we really haven't done a
lot of searching."

With Project Phoenix, the telescopes can only comb through about
one million stars, around 0.001 percent of the Milky Way Galaxy,
Tarter said.

In 2007, Tarter said scientists are planning to build the Allen
Telespan Array, a group of more than 300 radio telescopes in
California, to expand in their search for signals.

"It will be 300 times faster than today in 2007."

After Tarter and her team of scientists find a signal, she said
they will try to deduce from the information the composition of
the planet's atmosphere. If water, ozone and methane are present
in the atmosphere, like Earth, scientist believe life also may
be existent, Tarter said.

The lecture was sponsored by the UM National Remote Sensing and
Space Law Center, the Sarah Isom Center for Women and the
Mississippi Space Grant Program.

Although Tarter has yet to find any life, she still remains an
eternal optimist.

"I've worked hard in this project, and that's no reason at all
to be (discouraged), because it's a huge universe out there."

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