College of Science

Astrobiology and SETI

SETI Banner of the Allen Telescope Array and Hydrothermal vents.

Astrobiology Research at the SETI Institute

Study extreme forms of life on earth that may give clues about life's origins, participate in the search for life elsewhere in the solar system, or help build a radio telescope to search for signals from alien civilizations. All of these 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. Research projects during previous years have included:

  • Biochemistry and the Origin and Evolution of Life on Earth ORganics Exposure in Orbit (OREOcube) Experiment on the International Space Station
  • Infrared Spectroscopy of Solar System Ices Planetary Science and the Search for Life in the Solar System
  • Morphology and Classification of Martian Dunes Image Analysis of Outer Solar System Moons
  • Space Environment Viability of Organic Compounds
  • Meteor showers and their parent comets
  • Astronomy and the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Meteor showers and their parent comets SETI and radio astronomy

Program Details

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 $5000 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.

Who should apply?

Applicants must be at least 18 years of age by the beginning of the program. They must be enrolled in one of the CAMPARE participating institutions at the time of their application. Participants should not have graduated from their 4-year institution before the beginning of the summer internship. Community college students in the process of transferring to a 4-year institution are eligible to apply.

All applicants must have completed a minimum of one full year of college-level physics by the start of the program. 

When and How to Apply

Applications are due February 1, 2018. 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.

In addition, you must ask two faculty members (or others familiar with your academic or work background) to submit letters of reference using the link on the application instructions page. Indicate their names, addresses, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses in your on-line application where appropriate. It is your responsibility to confirm that these letters have been sent and failure to obtain these two letters will render your application incomplete and lead to its rejection without review.

Successful students will be notified in March. The research program runs Sunday, June 10th to Saturday, August 18th 2018 (10 weeks). Participants must be available during the entire 10-week period of the program.

Fun Video

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

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. AST-1322432.

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