A team* of astronomers have installed two prototype SETI telescopes into the refurbished dome at Lick Observatory which houses the historic Carnegie Astrograph. Panoramic SETI (PANOSETI) will ultimately utilize a configuration of many SETI telescopes which will allow simultaneously monitoring the entire observable sky whenever weather permits. The unique, compact telescope design uses Fresnel lenses combined with fast-response (nanosecond) optical sensors to search for very brief optical pulses. The first pair of 0.5m telescopes will image the sky with a 10 degree by 10 degree field of view every billionth of a second. The program aims to discover very brief optical pulses that may arise either from astrophysical sources or extraterrestrial communication ("technosignatures"). Lick staff has recently completed a magnificent restoration of the 80-year old dome. The new installation has been achieved without disturbing the historic first telescope occupant of the dome.

*Team Members: Shelley Wright (PI, UCSD), Franklin Antonio (Qualcomm), Michael Aronson (Electronic Packaging Man), Samuel Chaim-Weismann (Berkeley), Maren Cosens (UCSD), Frank Drake (SETI Institute), Paul Horowitz (Harvard), Andrew Howard (Caltech), Jérôme Maire (UCSD), Rick Raffanti (Techne Instruments), Andrew Siemon (Berkeley), Remington Stone (Lick Observatory), Richard Treffers (Starman Systems), Avinash Uttamchandani (Harvard), Dan Werthimer (Berkeley, Space Sciences Laboratory).

Upgraded from the Optical SETI (OSETI) instrument previously installed on the 1 meter Nickel Reflector, the NIROSETI instrument (Near Infrared Optical Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) is designed to detect as-yet-undiscovered nanosecond laser pulses from beyond our solar system. This innovative device is the only one of its kind in the world, the first capable of detecting such brief bursts at near infrared wavelengths.

Research team: Shelley Wright P.I., Patrick Dorval, Frank Drake, Jérome Maire, Geoffrey Marcy, Andrew Siemion, Remington Stone, Richard Treffers, Dan Wertheimer. Prrevious team members inclued Zoe Buck and Melisio Muñoz.

The Anna B. Nickel 40-inch Reflector is named for the San Francisco seamstress whose generous and unexpected bequest provided funding to design and build this telescope. Constructed in-house in the late 1970’s, the Nickel presently occupies the first dome to be completed on Mt. Hamilton, at the north end of the Main Building. The dome originally housed a 12” Alvan Clark Refractor which was placed in service in 1881. Careful dome modifications accommodate the Nickel’s larger aperture.

What would Anna think if her telescope was the first to discover ET?


UC San Diego PANOSETI website

UC San Diego NIROSETI First Light press release


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