SETI Institute

SETI Banner of the Allen Telescope Array and Hydrothermal vents.

Astronomy, Astrobiology, and Planetary Science at the SETI Institute

The SETI Institute welcomes students to join them as they study extreme forms of life on earth that may give clues about life's origins, analyze minerals on the surface of Mars or the workings of Saturn's rings, participate in the search for planets orbiting other stars, or help use a radio telescope to search for signals from alien civilizations. You’ll work side by side with scientists and researchers at the SETI Institute and the NASA Ames Research Center, located in the heart of Silicon Valley.

Cal-Bridge Summer students who are selected will participate in the SETI REU program with the guidance and support of SETI REU mentors (click here to read about this year’s mentors).

Ashley Curry
In the SETI lab, Ashley Curry adds liquid nitrogen to cool the apparatus used to prepare samples of ethane for infrared spectral analysis. Matching these laboratory spectra with astronomical spectra of objects in our outer Solar System will help determine if these objects contain ethane. Liquid nitrogen is very cold, only 77 degress above absolute zero or 321 degrees below zero Farenheit (77 K = -196 C = -321 F).

What is it?

Students will work for 10 weeks in the summer with scientists at the SETI Institute on projects spanning the field of astrobiology from microbiology to planetary geology to observational astronomy.  The program includes a week-long field trip to the Hat Creek Radio Astronomy in Northern California and hiking and field exploration at nearby Lassen Volcanic National Park. Students will collaborate on radio astronomy projects and study hydrothermal systems.

Selected students will receive a $6000 stipend for the full 10 weeks. In addition, participants will be provided with housing and reimbursed for travel from home or campus to Mountain View, CA. The research program runs June 2 to August 10, 2024. Participants must be available during the entire 10-week period of the program.

Who Should Apply?

Applicants must be United States Citizens or Permanent Residents and at least 18 years of age by the beginning of the program. Applicants must be enrolled at a CSU or California Community College at the time of their application, and ready to devote themselves full-time to a 10-week summer internship at the SETI Institute. Participants may not have graduated from their 4-year institution before the beginning of the summer internship, but community college students may be in the process of transferring to a 4-year institution. 

When and How to Apply 

Applications are due February 1, 2024. To apply to the program, go to the Application Home Page. In addition, you must ask two faculty members (or others familiar with your academic or work background) to submit letters of reference. Indicate their names, addresses, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses in your on-line application where appropriate. 


This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grants DUE-1741863, AST-1636646, and AST-1836019.