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What Is Project Argus?
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Perhaps the most ambitious microwave SETI project ever undertaken without Government equipment or funding, Project Argus is an effort to deploy and coordinate roughly 5,000 small radio telescopes around the world, in an all-sky survey for microwave signals of possible intelligent extra-terrestrial origin. When fully operational, Project Argus will provide the first ever continuous monitoring of the entire sky, in all directions in real time.

The SETI League was established in 1994 to help privatize the scientific Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI), formerly conducted by NASA. SETI League members have developed the necessary hardware, software, protocols and procedures for distribution worldwide. The name Argus derives from a 100-eyed being in Greek mythology. The search phase of Project Argus began on Earth Day, April 21, 1996, with just five operational radio telescopes. By November, 2000, the scope of our Argus equalled that of its namesake, with our 100th station actively participating.

Traditional research grade radio telescopes (the type which NASA used) can view only a small fraction of the sky at a given time, typically on the order of one part in a million. All-sky coverage with these instruments would thus require a million telescopes, properly aimed. At a cost of perhaps one hundred million US dollars apiece, such a network would exceed the Gross Planetary Product. Fortunately, there is another way.

Project Argus employs much smaller, quite inexpensive amateur radio telescopes, built and operated by SETI League members at their individual expense. A typical Project Argus station can be built for from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, depending upon the expertise of the builder. Only five thousand of these smaller instruments, properly coordinated, are necessary to see in all directions at once. The equipment, although of modest sensitivity, is still believed capable of detecting microwave radiation from technologically advanced civilizations out to a distance of several hundred light years.

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this page last updated 10 May 2003
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