Astrobiology and SETI

SETI Banner of the Allen Telescope Array and Hydrothermal vents.

Astronomy, Astrobiology, and Planetary Science at the SETI Institute

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. All of these research topics, and many more, are part of the field of Astrobiology, the study of the origin, evolution, distribution, and future of life in the universe.

CAMPARE students who are selected to work at the SETI Institute 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. 

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.

Eligibility requirements?

  • Undergraduate student
  • Has completed freshman year before the summer of the internship
  • Will still be an undergraduate during the fall term following the summer of the internship
  • U.S. citizen or U.S. permanent resident (i.e., green card)
  • Ready to devote yourself full-time to a 10-week summer internship at the SETI Institute.

When and How to Apply 

Applications are due February 1, 2022. To apply to the program, follow the Application Instructions.

SETI Dishes
The Allen Telescope Array (ATA) is a radio telescope designed to search for signals from extraterrestrial civilizations as well as to conduct observations of natural astrophysical phenomena. In previous years, some students have worked on testing and data analysis projects for this array telescope as part of the SETI Institute REU program.

Successful students will be notified in March. The research program runs Sunday, June 5 to Saturday, August 13 2022 (10 weeks). Participants must be available during the entire 10-week period of the program.

What about Covid-19?

It is our hope and goal to run a normal REU program in Summer 2022, as we did in Summer 2021, with our interns working in person in Mountain View, side by side with their research mentors. However, if any resurgence of the Covid-19 pandemic prevents us from doing so, our fallback plan will be to offer remote research experiences, as we successfully did in Summer 2020.
For any questions that you may have, please consult our program’s main website at 

Fun Video

See your CAMPARE colleagues from Cal Poly Pomona in a fun SETI YouTube video here:

CSU    NSF    SETI Institute  

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