Search for aliens to get 500 times boost with upgraded SETI@home software

January 3rd, 2008 - 4:23 pm ICT by admin  

Washington, Jan 3 (ANI): The search for extraterrestrial life is all set to get a major boost with the upgrading of the SETI@home software, which has been improved to deal with 500 times more data generated by the world’s largest radio telescope in Arecibo, Puerto Rico.

SETI@home (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence), launched eight years ago at the University of California, Berkeley’s Space Sciences Laboratory, is basically a distributed computing project using Internet -connected computers, which support an observational analysis to detect radio signals from intelligent life outside Earth.

It has signed up more than 5 million interested volunteers and boasts of the largest community of dedicated users of any Internet computing project: 170,000 users on 320,000 computers.

Now, a burst of new data from the upgraded Arecibo telescope, means that the SETI@home project needs more desktop computers to help crunch the data.

According to project scientist Eric Korpela, the new data amounts to 300 gigabytes per day, or 100 terabytes (100,000 gigabytes) per year.

“That’s why we need all the volunteers,” said Korpela. “Everyone has a chance to be part of the largest public participation science project in history,” he added.

“The next generation SETI@home is 500 times more powerful then anything anyone has done before,” said project chief scientist Dan Werthimer. “That means we are 500 times more likely to find ET than with the original SETI@home ,” he added.

What triggered the new flow of data was the addition of seven new receivers at Arecibo, which now allow the telescope to record radio signals from seven regions of the sky simultaneously instead of just one.

With greater sensitivity and the ability to detect the polarization of the radio signals, plus 40 times more frequency coverage, Arecibo is set to survey the sky for new radio sources.

“The good news is, we’re entering an era when we will be able to scan billions of channels, said Werthimer. Arecibo is now optimized for this kind of search, so if there are signals out there, we or our volunteers will find them,” he added. (ANI)

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