Introducing the SETILive Project

You can help us detect signals in Real-Time.

SETILive is a collaboration between the SETI Institute, TED, Science Channel and Zooniverse. Visit to get involved in the SETILive program. We need your help!

What is SETILive?

SETILive is an effort to help the SETI Institute detect signals contained within the massive amount of data passing through our signal detection computers. If you have a computer with a modern browser that connects to the internet, and you are interested helping with the search for evidence of extraterrestrial life, you are highly (but not over) qualified!

The Allen Telescope Array

Located in a remote area of California the Allen Telescope Array (ATA) is one of the world's truely great radio astronomy and SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) instruments. See for an explanation of this wonderful instrument. With the 42 receiving dishes at the ATA (each 6 meters, or 20 feet, in diameter) the SETI Institute searches the heavens for signals from ET.

SETILive Goals

We need help.

Data from our 42 - 6 meter diameter dishes is analyzed in real-time during the daily (and nightly) observations. This means our computer system chugs through the data as fast as it arrives, detecting and recording any signals that the data may contain. It does a pretty good job, but this is not a perfect system; the real world intereferes. This is where we are asking for your help.

There are areas of the frequency bands that our system needs to ignore. These bands contain so many signals that our computers can't classify them all. These signals are most likely radio frequency interference (RFI). RFI is received from many sources such as radio/TV stations, cell phones, satellites, to name a few.

The initial phase of this project is to allow hundreds, if not thousands, of people view this RFI crowded data and try to visually detect signals in these RFI crouded bands. This process will hopefully have two very useful outcomes that will help us with SETI searches; 1) Help us map out RFI so that we can train our computers to efficiently ignore these signals, and 2) Maybe a group of Citizen Scientists will spot a non-RFI signal partially hidden in the RFI (ET?).

How it Works

The unique angle to our SETILive approach is that the data from the receiving dishes will be viewed as close to real-time as possible, seached for signals for a short time (a minute) by a mass of Citizen Scientists, then imediately sent back to the ATA for re-observation. This progam enables you to have a real and immediate impact on our work. There is really nothing quite like it.

I've created a simple (if not cheesey) diagram explaining the general flow of the system. NOTE: Your part is represented by the Sherlock Holmes characters.

The process loops over and over, eventually helping us aquire enough wisdom to navigate our way effectively through the RFI jungle. And, of couse, maybe you will help find an interesting non-RFI signal.

This is Just the Beginning

It is important to keep in mind that SETILive is an experiment. We will be trying new things, scrapping ideas that don't pan out and continualy evolving the process to reach maximum usefullness. This may involve some false starts. Please get involved, make suggestions, try out new things. Keep an open mind.

How To Get More Information and Get Involved

Getting involved is easy: Visit, sign up. Go through their tutorial slowy, drink it all in. Then dig in and help us with the search.

The SETILive site has forums to discuss the data, give suggestions. Become involved.


Good luck!


Do you want to discuss this topic? Please do so on our forum. See the topic