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What is the relationship between The SETI League and SETI Institute?

The SETI League is privileged to share the privatization of SETI with several like-minded nonprofit organizations. Among our most respected colleagues are the scientists and educators at the SETI Institute in Mountain View CA. Although our names are similar, The SETI League and SETI Institute are two separate organizations with common goals but distinct missions.

The SETI Institute was the institutional home, via a cooperative agreement research award, of much of the late NASA SETI effort. Upon Congressional cancellation of the NASA SETI program in October, 1993, many former NASA staff found themselves continuing their work through the Institute's privately funded Project Phoenix.Theirs is a highly professional organization operating with the utmost of scientific rigor. The SETI Institute does more than just a radio search for signals; it is also the home for over three dozen first rate scientific and educational projects involved in many aspects of the Drake Equation. Its Project Phoenix search is conducted by trained radio astronomers on a full-time basis.

By contrast, The SETI League is an organization of, by, and for the amateur radio astronomer. Our grass-roots research is conducted by our individual members, who come from many countries, all walks of life and various educational backgrounds. As is true in optical astronomy, there is a place in radio astronomy and SETI for both professional and amateur searches, and each has its particular contribution to make to human knowledge.

The two organizations approach SETI from different directions. The SETI Institute's Project Phoenix is a targeted search, carefully scanning stars similar to our own sun with a high degree of sensitivity. Meanwhile, The SETI League is conducting its Project Argus all-sky survey, searching in all directions of the sky for evidence of powerful beacons. See this article for an explanation of these two complimentary search strategies.

Project Phoenix operates highly sophisticated equipment, a portion of which was developed as part of the late NASA SETI effort and subsequently provided to the SETI Institute by NASA on a long term loan basis, and deploys their systems to some of the world's largest and most powerful radio telescopes. The SETI League's members build or buy their own more modest equipment individually, much as an amateur optical astronomer owns his or her own small telescope. We hope to make up in strength of numbers what we lack in sophisticated hardware or extensive funding.

The level of cooperation between The SETI League and SETI Institue is high, with SETI Institute president Frank Drake serving on our advisory board. Several SETI Institute scientists have shown their support of The SETI League by becoming dues-paying members; we certainly appreciate their encouragement. We have also pursued joint projects, most notably a reprint of the historic Project Cyclops report.

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