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Extra-Terrestrial QSL Cards
Rules and Regulations

click to see SETI League QSL Card To encourage amateur participation in the growing fields of radio astronomy and SETI, The SETI League, Inc. announces its Extra-Terrestrial QSL Card program. We are offering the special card depicted here to commemorate confirmed reception of a variety of extra-terrestrial signals: manmade, natural, and even (dare we hope?) alien!

Since early in the last century, amateur radio operators have observed a tradition of exchanging postal cards to commemorate their on-the-air contacts. So-called QSL cards (named for the International Morse Code signal for 'confirmation') are used as proof of successful radio contact with stations in rare and distant locations. Many operators in exotic lands employ the services of a QSL manager to distribute their much sought after cards. As the world's radio hams prepare for the eventual reception of signals from civilizations in space, The SETI League, Inc. has stepped forward as QSL Manager to ET.

SETI enthusiasts documenting radio reception from beyond Earth of an artificial satellite, manned or unmanned space probe, natural astrophysical phenomenon, Earth transmission bounced off the moon or another planet, or confirmed electromagnetic evidence of another civilization in space, are eligible to apply for a QSL Card from The SETI League, Inc. The program is open to SETI League members and non-members alike, although interested parties are encouraged to join the nonprofit SETI League, Inc.

QSL cards will be issued for documented reception of unique sources in any of four specific categories of extra-terrestrial electromagnetic emission, as follows:

  1. Natural -- Electromagnetic radiation emanating from a nebula, supernova, pulsar, star, planet, interstellar gas cloud, galaxy, or similar natural astrophysical phenomenon.
  2. Moonbounce -- Recovered reflection of an Earth-based transmission deliberately or inadvertently bounced off of a natural astronomical body, including comets, asteroids, the Moon, a neighboring planet, or the moons of a neighboring planet.
  3. Human -- Electromagnetic transmissions from any manned or unmanned spacecraft, space probe, communications or navigation satellite, or similar artifact of human technology, if received from beyond the Earth's atmosphere on qualifying equipment (see Equipment, below).
  4. Alien -- the Holy Grail of SETI; a signal which is independently confirmed and generally acknowledged to be of intelligent origin, from beyond Earth, and having been generated by beings not of this planet.

Duplicate Observations:
Detections from different, uniquely identifiable passive reflectors (i.e, a given moon, planet, specific asteroid, comet, or meteor shower) qualify for separate QSL cards. Only one QSL card will be issued for each source observed, except that repeat observations in different ham radio bands or radio astronomy bands will count as unique detections.

In the case of detections involving multiple examples of the same family of artificial source (e.g., multiple GPS satellites all received on the same frequency), a single QSL card will be issued, although each uniquely identified source still counts as a separate detection for purposes of the ETCC Award.

To qualify for a QSL Card, documented reception must have been accomplished with equipment normally used for, or capable of being used for, radio astronomy. Reception of navigation signals on a GPS or similar geolocation receiver, placing of a mobile telephone call which has been relayed via satellite, or the reception of satellite TV or similar broadcast signals from an orbiting spacecraft, are specifically excluded from consideration for this award.

Reception reports should be accompanied by the following documentation:

  1. a statement as to the date, time, frequency, and coordinates (celestial or terrestrial) of reception.
  2. a description of the reception equipment used.
  3. the observer's best estimate as to the nature and origin of the signal.
  4. physical evidence of the claimed detection, such as a strip-chart recorder output, computer printout, or digital signal processor file. (Clear photocopies of documentation are entirely acceptable.)

Mail all QSL materials to:

Operating Awards
The SETI League, Inc.
PO Box 555
Little Ferry NJ 07643 USA

All claimed detections will be reviewed by the Awards Committee of The SETI League, Inc. Claims specifically of detection in the Alien category will be subjected to the utmost scrutiny. QSL cards will be awarded only in those cases where the claimed detection is deemed credible, in the sole discretion of The SETI League, Inc.

There will be no charge for the issuance of any Extra-Terrestrial QSL. Claimants in the US are asked to provide a stamped, self-addressed #10 business sized envelope, for each QSL Card requested. Claimants outside of the US are asked to provide a self-addressed envelope of similar size, and two International Reply Coupons (IRCs) per QSL Card requested. Participants are welcome to make voluntary contributions to the nonprofit SETI League, Inc., which may be tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.

False Claims:
Any evidence of detection which The SETI League, Inc., in its sole discretion, deems to be deliberately false, misleading, or in any way altered, will be disqualified from consideration, and the submitter excluded from participation in SETI League programs. Hoaxes will not be tolerated.

Interpretation of Rules:
All decisions of the Board of Trustees of The SETI League, Inc., with respect to interpretation of the rules presented herein or subsequently amended, shall be final.

Response Time:
Because this program is administered solely by volunteers, participants should expect a time lag of several weeks for the processing of QSL cards. The SETI League thanks program participants for your patience and understanding.

These Policies shall have the force and effect of Bylaws of The SETI League, Inc. They may be amended as necessary from time to time by the Board of Trustees. Amendments or revisions shall become effective as of 0001 UTC on the day following the date of their posting to the World Wide Web site of The SETI League, Inc.

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this page last updated 5 July 2003
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