The SETI League, Inc., a membership-supported, non-profit {501(c)(3)}, educational and scientific organization Searching for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence

Ask Dr. SETI ®

Chapter 5: Sociology

Parasitic SETI

Dear Dr. SETI:
As a Satellite dish owner and a strong interest in SETI, I was wondering if anything is available to allow the home satellite dish owner to 'search' when he is not watching TV. I do a bit of programing and would love to help make it so home dish owners could do this. Is it possible? What would it take? Does the dish have to follow a spot or can it sweep the sky from a fixed position? If this is possible it could add a million listeners to the system.

Bill T.

The Doctor Responds:
Absolutely, Bill! Parasitic SETI with a home satellite TV dish is not only feasilble, it's widely practiced. A second feedhorn and preamp assembly are mounted next to the C-band horn/LNB at the apex of the dish (see Figure 2 of this article). This assembly feeds the rest of a SETI system (see our online Tech Manual). You can then sweep out the sky, as described here. And yes, a million participants would be nice, but our goal is a more modest 5000 stations.

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