LITTLE FERRY, NJ..,April 21, 1996 -- Amid great fanfare, the non-profit, membership-supported SETI League today kicked off its long awaited Project Argus survey of the heavens for microwave signals of possible intelligent extra-terrestrial origin. At 1900 hours Coordinated Universal Time on Earth Day, April 21, the first five radiotelescopes in the Argus effort went on line simultaneously in Spain, Toronto, Colorado, Hawaii, and at SETI League headquarters in New Jersey. The simultaneous "launch" of these five stations was coordinated via shortwave radio, by the participating amateur radio operators.
"This small step for humanity," commented SETI League executive director Dr. H. Paul Shuch, "represents a humble beginning for what will ultimately be a global effort. From five stations today, we can foresee 500 participants within two years, and perhaps five thousand by the year 2001. When we reach that level, there will be no direction in the sky which evades our gaze. Then we can hope to find the answer to a fundamental question which has haunted us since first we recognized that the points of light in the night sky are other suns: Are We Alone?"
Traditional research-grade radiotelescopes can view only a tiny 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, each at a cost of tens of millions of dollars. Project Argus employs a large number of much smaller, quite inexpensive amateur radiotelescopes, built and operated by amateur radio experimenters at their individual expense. The equipment, although of modest sensitivity, is capable of detecting microwave radiation from technologically advanced civilizations out to a distance of several hundred light years. There are hundreds of sun-like stars within that distance, many of which are believed to harbor their own planetary systems.
SETI scientists seek to determine through microwave and optical measurements whether humankind is alone in the universe. Since Congress terminated NASA's SETI funding in 1993, The SETI League and other scientific groups have been attempting to privatize the research. Experimenters interested in participating in the search for intelligent alien life, or citizens wishing to help support it, should email to join_at_setileague_dot_org, check the SETI League Web site at http://www.setileague.org/, send a fax to +1 (201) 641-1771, or contact The SETI League, Inc. membership hotline at +1 (800) TAU-SETI. Be sure to provide us with a postal address to which we will mail further information. The SETI League, Inc. is a membership-supported, non-profit [501(c)(3)], educational and scientific corporation dedicated to the electromagnetic Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence.
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this page last updated 30 November 2002
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