For the first time in over 20 years, we have
landed a vehicle on another planet! The Pathfinder
Lander has been named the Sagan Memorial Station,
and the Sojourner rover is moving about on Mars.
Find out more about it here. There are also quite
a few resources here.
Sponsored by the Planetary Society, the Harvard University SETI Group is carrying out some of the major SETI investigations, including project BETA(the Billion-channel Extraterrestrial Assay).
The SETI Institute runs the most comprehensive search for extraterrestrial civilization as Project Phoenix, which listens for radio signals from the environs of one thousand nearby sun-like stars.
U.C. Berkeley's Project Serendip (Search for Extraterrestrial Radio Emissions from Nearby Developed Intelligent Populations) is a "piggyback" SETI system, meaning it operates alongside conventional ongoing radio astronomy operations. They are currently using the 1,000-foot dish at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico (see below).
Project Argus -- an effort to deploy and coordinate roughly 5,000 small radiotelescopes around the world, in an all-sky survey for microwave signals of possible intelligent extra-terrestrial origin.
The SETI League was established in response to Congress terminating all NASA SETI funding in October of 1993. It is a membership supported, non-profit educational and scientific organization. The SETI League is one of several groups worldwide dedicated to privatizing SETI.
With the Voyager spacecraft we have successfully taken our first tentative steps at exploring our home, the solar system. Voyager carries the Voyager Interstellar Recording.
The Pioneer Mission gave us our first observations of Jupiter and Saturn. Launched in 1972, Pioneer 11's mission ended in 1995, while Pioneer 10's last message was received on March 31, 1997. Our first two spacecraft to leave the solar system, each Pioneer carried the Pioneer Plaque.
The NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory is a central location for information about much of the American space program. The site is full of images and information about the ongoing exploration of the solar system and beyond.
The Arecibo Observatory (Puerto Rico) is one of the locations featured in Contact. The 1000-foot dish is one of the largest in the world and is the main facility of the National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center, operated by Cornell University under a cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation.
The Very Large Array (VLA) was also used as a location in Contact, and it is one of the world's premier astronomical radio observatories. Located near Socorro, New Mexico, it consists of 27 antennas arranged in various Y patterns as large as 22 miles (36km) across.
The "Big Ear" Radio Observatory is a radio telescope larger than three football fields and has for discovered some of the most distant known objects in the universe. It also houses the longest-running SETI project and was the receiver of the so-called "Wow!" signal.
The Deep Space Network is the international network of antennas that supports interplanetary spacecraft missions and radio and radar astronomy observations of the solar system and the universe. The network also supports some Earth-orbiting missions.
The American Association for the Advancement of Science has a Program of Dialogue Between Science and Religion which is concerned with many of the issues raised in Contact. Much information about the program is available at their web site.
SETIQuest is the the magazine of SETI and Bioastronomy.
Extraterrestrial life would most likely require the existence of planets in other solar systems. In 1995 the first such planet was found the Swiss astronomers Michel Mayor and Didier Queloz, and confirmed by the San Francisco State University Planet Search Project. Since then 6 more planets have been found orbiting other stars.
ExNPS (Exploration of Neighboring Planetary Systems) is a NASA space-based interferometer program that will search nearby stars for Earth-like planets.
Project Kepler is another proposed mission to detect Earth-like planets in other solar systems.
Project Darwin is a proposed European Space Agency space-based infrared interferometer that would detect Earth-like planets around nearby stars and search for spectroscopic signatures of life on such planets.
National Radio Astronomy Observatory
Telescope links: A listing of hundreds of telescopes and observatories around the world and around the web.
The Astrobiology Web contains a fair amount of information on possible life in extreme environments.
Women of NASA
In Contact, Ellie Arroway's hobby as a child was ham radio, which later lead to her interest in radio astronomy. The American Radio Relay League serves the over 600,000 Amateur Radio operators, enthusiasts, experimenters and hobbyists in the United States and its territories.
The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence in the Optical Spectrum -- The COSETI observatory has been designed to look for pulsed and monochromatic laser beacon signals in the visible and near-infrared spectrum. The web site provides a very detailed account of this alternative approach to Microwave SETI.

Contact opens July 11.

©1997 Warner Bros.