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Introduction to SonATA

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The SonATA Open Source Project makes our SETI search software available to the open source community. The goal is to allow the world to help us improve our search algorithms and software. By helping us improve our software you will be helping us improve our search. What follows is a very high level introduction to SonATA to help you understand what SonATA is and how you can help.

What is SonATA?

SonATA is an acronym for SETI on the ATA. The ATA is the Allen Telescope Array, a joint effort by the SETI Institute and the Radio Astronomy Laboratory at the University of California, located at the Hat Creek Observatory located in the Cascades just north of Mt. Lassen (California). Currently the ATA is comprised of 42 dish antennas.

The ATA logo

  The ATA 


Where we get our signals - The ATA

In very general terms SonATA is a computer system that selects a distant target to observe, such as a star or Kepler exoplanet, and instructs the antennas to point to the target. Once the antennas are pointed at the target the SonATA software analyzes the signals received from the antennas, attempting to detect signals.

The system is made up of several distinct components that operate together to perform observations. SonATA is just one of the components. SonATA is a sophisticated controller which controls the antennas and receiver, as well as analyzes the signals.


SonATA is only part of the observing system and is currently the only part that is open sourced. 


Data Products

There are many different data products produced by SonATA:


Binary data files that contain the raw data samples from the receiver. We make many of these data files downloadable from our setiQuest data project site. Above is a plot of Power vs. Frequency from an observation of the Crab Nebula.


Signal analysis reports


Waterfall plots. Frequency vs. Time. Can you spot the signal, or help us create algorithms to detect signals automatically?

The open source community (you) can help us improve our signal analysis and help up create new ways of searching for signals. This is only the beginning!


How to Get Involved

You can make a real impact in our search for ET. How can you help? We need help from people with many different skills. Please see the How to Help page for more details. We look forward to working with you!

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