A SETI Chronology

Robert Owen (rowen@technologist.com)
Sat, 25 Sep 1999 04:23:45 -0400

I have prepared this SETI Chronology [1] to remedy omissions in currently
available histories; [2] to provide relative newcomers to the field the oppor-
unity to place current events in the historical context needed to understand
them fully; [3] to provide a useful overview of the remarkable evolution of
this research since l959. I hope that readers will provide additions, corrections
and suggestions so that I can improve this document; writing to me personally
or discussing matters online are both welcome. [RMO]

                                             ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


                                      A BRIEF CHRONOLOGY

1959 ~ Philip Morrison and Guiseppe Coconni publish "Searching for Interstellar
             Communication" in Nature magazine.

1960 ~ The first SETI search, Project OZMA, is conducted by Frank Drake and
             Bernard Oliver at Greenbank Observatory in Greenbank, West Virginia.

1961 ~ The optical approach to SETI using continuous wave laser beacons
             is proposed by Schwartz and Townes.

1961 ~ The Greenbank Conference for the Search for Extraterrestrial Life
             take place at the Greenbank Observatory. Carl Sagan, Frank Drake
             and other leaders in SETI take part.

1966 ~ Carl Sagan and I.S. Shkolovskii write Intelligent Life in the Universe.

1971 ~ Carl Sagan, Frank Drake, and Phil Morrison join Russian scientists at
             the US-USSR SETI Conference in Byurakan, Armenia, Soviet Union.

1971 ~ The Pioneer Plaques, containing a message about Earth and its
             inhabitants destined for points beyond our solar system, are launched
1972 on Pioneer 10 and Pioneer 11.

1979 ~ The Planetary Society is founded by Carl Sagan, Bruce Murray and
             Louis Friedman.
         ~ The Search for Extraterrestrial Radio from Nearby Developed Popula-
             tions (Project SERENDIP I) launches at Hat Creek Observatory, UC-B.

1981 ~ The Proxmire Amendment kills NASA support of SETI
          ~ International SETI Conference, Talliinn, Soviet Union. Because the
             Proxmire Amendmen prevented US scientists to participate, The
             Planetary Society sends US delegates to the international meeting.
          ~ The Planetary Society begins strong advocacy for NASA to conduct
             for extraterrestrial signals. Carl Sagan, then president of the Society
             meets with Senator Proxmire to help convince him to stop opposing
             government funding for SETI.

1982 ~ NASA begins SETI searches with The High Resolution Microwave
             Survey (HRMS).

1982 ~ George Gatewood conducts first extrasolar planet search at Allegheny
             Observatory in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
          ~ Paul Horowitz's suitcase SETI is tested at the Arecibo radio telescope.
          ~ The International Astronomical Union establishes Commission 51,
             dedicated to bioastronomy and the search for life extraterrestrial life.

1983 ~ Samuel Gulkis and Thomas Kuiper begin a southern hemisphere search
             using the 64-meter DSN antenna, Australia; focus: water vapor lines.
          ~ Michael Papagiannis launches Bioastronomy ews, the official newsletter
             of the International Astronmicall Union's Commission 51.
          ~ Paul Horowitz launches Project Sentinel using the 26-meter-diameter
             (84-foot) radio telescope at Harvard Massachusetts.

1984 ~ The SETI Institute is founded as a home for research investigating all
             aspects of life in the Universe, with most support coming from NASA.

1985 ~ The Mega-Channel Extraterrestrial Assay (Project META) begins at the
             Oak Ridge Observatory in Harvard Massachusetts, scanning 8.4 million
             0.05 Hz channels. The launch is sponsored by a generous grant from
             film director Steven Spielberg.
          ~ Ohio State University begins the Project "Big Ear" search at Columbus.

1986 ~ UC-Berkeley’s SERENDIP II begins to scan the skies.

1987 ~ Robert Stephens begins a Canadian search from the Hay River Radio
             Observatory, Hay River, Northwest Territories, Canada.

1988 ~ The Planetary Society organizes an international meeting on SETI in
             Toronto, Canada.

1989 ~ The Planetary Society takes over the publishing of Bioastronomy News
             as one of its special-interest newsletters.

1990 ~ The Columbus Optical SETI (COSETI) Observatory, developed by OSETI
              pioneer Dr. Stuart A. Kingsley, becomes the first optical SETI research

              facility in North America.
           ~ Project META II launches outside Buenos Aires, Argentina, with
              funding from the Planetary Society.

1992 ~ UC Berkeley launches SERENDIP III.
          ~ NASA’s HRMS is launched at Goldstone Observatory outside Barstow,
             California and at the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico.

1993 ~ Dr. Stuart Kingsley organizes the first OSETI Conference, sponsored by
             The International Society For Optical Engineering (SPIE).
          ~ Funding for NASA’s HRMS searches is eliminated by the US Congress.

1995 ~ The SETI Institute launches Project Phoenix, using the 210-foot
              Parkes radio telescope in New South Wales, Australia, the largest
              radio telescope in the southern hemisphere.

1995 ~ The Billion-Channel Extraterrestrial Assay Project BETA) begins scann-
              ing the skies from the Harvard radio telescope in Massachusetts.

1996 ~ OSETI II, the second SPIE Conference, is held under the direction of
              Dr. Stuart Kingsley.

1996 ~ The Planetary Society funds Project SERENDIP IV at the UC-Berkeley.

1996 ~ After being shut down for one year due to equipment upgrades
              funded by the Planetary Society, a more powerful Project META II
              resumes sky searches in Argentina.

1997 ~ At the University of California, Berkeley, Leuschner Observatory, The
              Optical SETI Pulse Search, directed by Dan Werthimer, begins.

1998 ~ Optical SETI is becoming accepted by the SETI establishment
              previously dominated by radio astronomers who had questioned
              the viability of OSETI as a search mode; both The SETI Institute
              and The Planetary Society now support searching for light signals.
          ~ The Harvard/Smithsonian Optical SETI program, directed by Harvard's
              Paul Horowitz, becomes operational at the Oak Ridge Observatory.

1999 ~ 1999 ~ SETI@home, a new screen saver program that taps into the power
              of home computers, has the potential of changing the future of The
              Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence.

                                     ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Credit must be given to The SETI Institute, The Planetary Society and The
Columbus Optical SETI (COSETI) Observatory, for the provision of some
information included in this Chronology. Please note that the remarkable
"Amateur" SETI research conducted by The SETI League (Project Argus), the
SARA Project BAMBI, and others are not given the attention they deserve.

Robert M. Owen
The Orion Institute
57 W. Morgan Street
Brevard, NC 28712-3659 USA

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