Are we alone in the universe? If anyone is qualified to find out, it’s a group of dedicated, multi-disciplined scientists at SETI Institute (Search For Extraterrestrial Intelligence) in Mountain View, California. They have 130 scientists, educators, and administrative staff working to learn what’s out there.
Their mission is to explore, understand and explain the origin and nature of life in the universe and the evolution of intelligence. The Institute deals with questions such as: What is life? How does it begin? Are we alone? The SETI Institute is a major research contractor to NASA and the National Science Foundation (NSF). Prior to 1984 when SETI was established.
NASA was funding a small project in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. John Billingham, Chief of Life Sciences at NASA Ames Research Center and Bernard Oliver, formerly of Hewlett-Packard Tom Pierson worked together on creating a non-profit research organization which became the SETI Institute.
The Carl Sagan Center for Research at the SETI Institute is home to more than 80 scientists working across nearly all branches of science to address questions around the development of life, where else in the Universe it exists and how we might find it. Their research is focused primarily on six core divisions:
SETI also deals with issues such as, can an asteroid strike our planet in the future? Astronomers think so. Thousands of near-earth asteroids (NEAs) cross our planet’s path. However, the good news is that an asteroid impact is a preventable large-scale disaster.
NASA has recently opened a Planetary Defense Coordination Office to manage its ongoing mission of so-called “Planetary Defense.” One of the programs is to find, track, and characterize at least 90 percent of the predicted number of NEAs that are at least 140 meters — bigger than a small football stadium — and characterize a subset of them, so SETI develops projects to deflect them if needed. It’s important out of this world work.
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