The Breakthrough Listen SETI initiative, a $100 million effort backed by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and physicist Stephen Hawking to find signs of alien intelligence, is teaming up with NASA in the search for alien life.
Scientists working on the space agency's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) mission will collaborate with SETI in the effort.
TESS was launched in April 2018 with the aim of searching for planets outside the solar system. The spacecraft does its work by using the “transit method,” which looks for slight dips in star brightness caused when an orbiting planet crosses the star’s face from TESS’ perspective. SETI, short for the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, is the largest player in the hunt for advanced life beyond our solar system.
The collaboration will add over 1,000 “objects of interest” identified by TESS to Breakthrough Listen’s target list, and SETI will scan promising worlds with a range of instruments, including the Green Bank and Parkes radio telescopes in West Virginia and Australia, respectively; the MeerKAT radio array in South Africa; and the Automated Planet Finder optical telescope in California.
"We are very enthusiastic about joining the Breakthrough Listen SETI search," TESS Deputy Science Director and MIT Professor Sara Seager said in a release. "Out of all the exoplanet endeavors only SETI holds the promise for identifying signs of intelligent life."
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