Are we alone? New grant supports citizen science searching for intelligent life with the GBT

Photo by Jee Seymour.

The Planetary Society has awarded nearly $50,000 to UCLA Professor Jean-Luc Margot for a new citizen science project using the Green Bank Telescope (GBT), “Are We Alone? A Citizen-Science-Enabled Search for Technosignatures.”

Margot heads one of the current leading searches for extraterrestrial signals with the UCLA SETI Group which uses the GBT. These observations focus on 100 stars known to have planets around them, and due to the width of the radio telescope field of view, they pick up tens of thousands of additional stars and planetary systems.

One of the biggest challenges with radio SETI, particularly with huge volumes of data, is to sort out the many sources of radio signals produced by intelligent life here on Earth. The Planetary Society’s grant award will be used to fund the development of a citizen science project to help with that process. The project will utilize the successful Zooniverse citizen scientist platform. Citizen scientists will classify signals in the data into several categories. Their classifications will be used to sort the most promising signals in the data. The citizen scientists’ efforts will also generate a set of tens of thousands of classifications to train a machine learning system for future use.

Read more about this award and listen to an interview with the Planetary Society and award winner Margot.

This information is an excerpt from The Planetary Society.