Place People Tools Ideas Live



NASANASA's Astrobiology Gateway

This site, created by NASA Ames Research Center, is a portal to a variety of news and information about astrobiology. You can browse Astrobiology Magazine, find out about workshops, missions, and technologies devoted to the subject; consider the impact of astrobiology on society; and more.


By employing a screensaver on the desktop machines of participants, the SETI@home project has created a worldwide network of computers, able to sift through and analyze large numbers of signals that are coming from space. You can download the software and be part of the search. Who knows? Maybe your computer will be the one that finds the signal from ET.

To read about the project and download the screensaver software:

How SETI@home works, an easy-to-read explanation of the project from the Exploratorium’s Ron Hipschman:

Mars rover and FIDOMars Rovers

NASA's Mars rovers are like mechanical geologists, complete with the Pancam (panoramic stereo cameras that can survey the landscape); robotic arms to strategically place scientific instruments; and even a drill to break and reveal the insides of Martian rocks. The rovers' primary task is to search for clues to past water activity on Mars. The next rovers will land on the planet in January 2004.

Learn more about the current Mars Exploration Rover mission:

Learn about the 2001 Mars Odyssey mission:

Watch the Exploratorium’s Webcast about the rovers:

Testing the rover in the desert: an Exploratorium Webcast:

Arecibo Telescope

In a Puerto Rican jungle, twelve miles from the coastal town of Arecibo, the world's largest radio telescope listens for signals from the sky. The massive structure, with a 1000-foot reflecting dish, was built in 1963. SETI@home has almost contant access to the telescope.

Arecibo's home page:

An extensive photo tour of the telescope by the Exploratorium's Ron Hipschman:

"Arecibo: Celestial Eavesdropper"

Arecibo Message

In 1974, astronomers sent the "Arecibo message," a binarily coded signal that decodes to a graphic illustrating some basic characteristics of Earth. The message was intended more to demonstrate the power of the telescope than to contact distant civilizations. Cornell's twenty-fifth anniversary announcement includes a decoded explanation and more information about what the scientists were thinking:

DrakeDrake Equation Calculator

Frank Drake devised the Drake equation as a means of estimating the number of other civilizations in the universe. Since the numerical values aren’t known for all the variables in the equation, you can designate them according to what you think might be right and create an estimate of your own:

Want to know how the equation works? Read a brief explanation from the SETI Institute:



Where there is water, there might be life. Using instruments that analyze the X-rays and gamma rays emitted from Martian soils, NASA’s Mars rovers can look for traces of past or present water. In 2001, the Odyssey’s rover carried a gamma ray spectrometer to detect levels of hydrogen in the upper meter of the planet’s surface. The recently launched Exploration rovers have three different spectrometers that can look for minerals formed by the action of water.

Information about the spectrometers on the current Mars Exploration Rover mission:

Information on the spectrometer used in the 2001 Mars Odyssey rover mission:


If we find other civilizations, what will we say to them? Crafting a message that represents Earth and humanity and can be understood by another life form is no minor endeavor. SETI Institute psychologist Douglas Vakoch has been charged with this formidable task, and has enlisted the help of mathematicians, artists, astronomers, and anthropologists. Hear the messages he helped compose, and learn about the thinking behind them.

Hear and see ET sounds.




Origins Exploratorium Astrobiology



© Exploratorium          


Origins Astrobiology: The Search for Life