The SETI League operates a low-cost, high-tech moonbounce beacon that aims a stable microwave signal at the Moon. The weak echoes of that signal return to Earth, giving radio astronomers everywhere on this planet a precise source against which to check the operation of their equipment. The amateur scientists built their beacon in 2001, funded by a $5000 grant from the American Astronomical Society. Since then, a number of SETI League members around the world have used it to calibrate their amateur radio telescopes, and professional searches have found it useful as well. "Before you can search for the unknown," explains SETI League executive director Dr. H. Paul Shuch, "you have to make sure you can receive and recognize the known."
Last night's test was not without incident. Two hours before the Moon rose over Arecibo, SETI League volunteers worked to correct a computer problem that kept their website from displaying the beacon antenna's aiming coordinates. Then, although Arecibo received the beacon in the first hour of testing, a software error set a switch to the wrong position, and the signal was temporarily lost. The error was detected and the signal reacquired.
A photo essay documenting the entire moonbounce experiment may be downloaded from http://www.setileague.org/photos/eme0403.htm.
SETI scientists seek to determine through microwave and optical measurements whether humankind is alone in the universe. Since Congress terminated NASA's SETI funding in 1993, The SETI League and other scientific groups have been attempting to privatize the research. Experimenters interested in participating in the search for intelligent alien life, or citizens wishing to help support it, should email to join_at_setileague_dot_org, check the SETI League Web site at http://www.setileague.org/, send a fax to +1 (201) 641-1771, or contact The SETI League, Inc. membership hotline at +1 (800) TAU-SETI. Be sure to provide us with a postal address to which we will mail further information. The SETI League, Inc. is a membership-supported, non-profit [501(c)(3)], educational and scientific corporation dedicated to the electromagnetic Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence.
P.S. Tearsheets are always appreciated. Thank you.
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this page last updated 15 April 2003
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