Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence

Photo of the central region of the Milky Way Galaxy by Yuri Beletsky, Carnegie Las Campanas Observatory


The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) addresses one of the most important questions of all time: Are there other civilizations out there?

Prospects for life elsewhere

Based on observations from the NASA Kepler telescope, we know that there are billions of habitable worlds in our galaxy. You do the math.

Prospects for establishing contact

Radio telescopes can detect signals emitted thousands of light years away, enabling contact from a large fraction of the Milky Way Galaxy.

Prospects for humanity

Imagine what we could learn if we received signals from an advanced civilization. Imagine the benefits to science, engineering, medicine, the arts, and philosophy.


Carl Sagan vigorously promoted SETI. His position was endorsed by many other eminent scientists. Jill Tarter devoted her career to SETI.

SETI course at UCLA

Students can learn valuable workplace skills (telecommunications, computer science, signal processing, statistical analysis) in the context of SETI. I am teaching a course in which students obtain and analyze data from large radio telescopes. Watch our video about the course.

Photo of Spring 2016 UCLA SETI class
Spring 2016 UCLA SETI class with Larry Lesyna
Photo of Spring 2017 UCLA SETI class
Spring 2017 UCLA SETI class with Michael Thacher

How you can help

With your help, we can

  • Enable the purchase of equipment and telescope time to collect data
  • Improve the training of the next generation of scientists and engineers
  • Help bring the excitement of SETI to the UCLA classroom and the general public

Traditional sources of funding (e.g., NASA, NSF) do not support SETI work. An endowed graduate student or postdoctoral fellowship will enable a sustained SETI research program. Imagine what we could learn.

Donor Recognition

Our SETI teaching and research would not be possible without the generous gifts of our donors. We are extremely grateful for their support!

  • EPSS Board Member Janet Marott kick-started the course and enabled the purchase of a 100 TB storage server.
  • Larry Lesyna enabled both the Spring 2016 and 2017 course offerings with gifts each year.
  • Michael W. Thacher and Rhonda L. Rundle enabled the purchase of telescope time for the Spring 2017 course offering.
  • Arnie Boyarsky enabled the purchase of telescope time for the Spring 2017 course offering.

Get involved

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