Is Anyone Out There? New SETI Tool Keeps Track of Alien Searches

Allen Telescope Array
The Allen Telescope Array used by the SETI Institute (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) to seek out signals from intelligent aliens. (Image credit: SETI Institute)

With research on extraterrestrial life continuing across the world, a noted researcher from the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute launched a new tool to help researchers keep track of results.

Jill Tarter, a co-founder of the institute who inspired the fictional character Ellie Arroway in the Carl Sagan novel "Contact" (which later became a 1997 movie), led the development of a newly announced web tool called Technosearch. This database includes all published SETI searches between 1960 and the present day. You can view the database online at

Ina Jan. 9 statement announcing the database, SETI representatives said that they hope the entire SETI community will work together to keep Technosearch accurate and up to date. The tool is meant to address the ongoing need in the community for a resource representing the hundreds of searches conducted in the sky. [13 Ways to Search for Intelligent Aliens]

"I started keeping this search archive when I was a graduate student," Tarter said in the statement. "Some of the original papers were presented at conferences or appear in obscure journals that are difficult for newcomers to the SETI field to access. I'm delighted that we now have a tool that can be used by the entire community and a methodology for keeping it current."

Technosearch was developed in collaboration with Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) interns, who were working under Jason Wright — an exoplanet and star researcher at Penn State University. One of those former REU students, Andrew Garcia, said the new tool will play a big role in SETI.

"I've become convinced that Technosearch will become an important instrument for astronomers and amateurs interested in exploring the cosmos for indications of other technological civilizations," Garcia said in the statement. "We can't know where to look for evidence tomorrow if we don't know where we have already looked."

Technosearch was released Jan. 9 at the 223rd meeting of the American Astronomical Society during a poster session.

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Elizabeth Howell
Live Science Contributor
Elizabeth Howell is a regular contributor to Live Science and, along with several other science publications. She is one of a handful of Canadian reporters who specializes in space reporting. Elizabeth has a Bachelor of Journalism, Science Concentration at Carleton University (Canada) and an M.Sc. Space Studies (distance) at the University of North Dakota. Elizabeth became a full-time freelancer after earning her M.Sc. in 2012. She reported on three space shuttle launches in person and once spent two weeks in an isolated Utah facility pretending to be a Martian.