SETI@home: Procedures for Public Announcement


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Upon discovery and confirmation of signals produced by extraterrestrial intelligence, SETI@home will make an announcement in the form of an IAU (International Astronomical Union) telegram. This is a standard way of informing the astronomical community of important discoveries. The telegram contains all of the important information (frequencies, bandwidth, location in the sky, etc.) that would be necessary for other astronomical groups to confirm the observation. The person(s) who found the signal with their screen saver would be named as one of the co-discoverers along with the others on the SETI@home team. At this point we would still be unsure if the signal was generated by an intelligent civilization or maybe some new astronomical phenomenon.

All information about the discovery will be made public, probably via the web. No country or individual would be allowed to jam the frequency the signal is observed on. Since the object will rise and set as seen from any given location, observations from radio observatories around the world will be necessary. This will, by necessity, be a multi-national effort. All this information will be made public.

There is an official protocol for announcing extraterrestrial signals called Declaration of Principles Concerning Activities Following the Detection of Extraterrestrial Intelligence. Because of this protocol, it is important that participants in the SETI@home project do not get excited when they see signals on their screen and go off on their own making announcements and calling the press. This could be very damaging to the project. It's important that we keep our heads cool and our computers hot while they grind away at the data. We can all hope that we will be the one that helps receive the signal of some extraterrestrial civilization trying to "phone home."

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