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Exciting news: A major new site expansion at Lick Observatory is on the horizon

PANOSETI, or “Panoramic SETI or Pulse All-sky Near Infrared Optical SETI ” is an exciting and innovative project in the field of astronomy and the search for extraterrestrial life. It combines several cutting-edge technologies and scientific objectives to advance our understanding of the cosmos and the potential for alien life.

Lick Observatory’s positioning in the Northern Hemisphere enables observation of a substantial portion of the Milky Way galaxy where there are a multitude of stars, billions of potential sites for life. Making Lick Observatory a perfect home for PANOSETI.

The temporary repurposing of the Carnegie Dual Astrograph dome for the PANOSETI program was part of the first stage; the project is now moving into its second phase; observational monitoring – data collection. The team also added a new small dome to Lick Observatory at the site of the now removed Barnard House.

To bolster that effort UC San Diego’s lead PI Shelley Wright is making plans to raise funds to construct two dedicated PANOSETI sites with 10’s of telescopes at each site at Lick Observatory. This dedicated PANOSETI program will be taking images over thousands of square degrees of sky maximizing the chances of detecting a rare interstellar communication. In addition to PANOSETI’s primary technosignature mission, the extensive sky coverage allows for the monitoring of other astrophysical transient events, like fast radio bursts (FRBs) or high-energy astrophysical sources . 

Wright explains, “PANOSETI is designed to take a picture every nanosecond – that’s a billion images per second! We are aiming to detect a signal in that brief snapshot of the entire night sky.”   

Advanced fiber optic technology is being used on site to ensure the precise timing on the nanosecond scale. Dr. Dan Werthimer at UC Berkeley and Prof. Paul Horowitz at Harvard – PANOSETI co-investigators – have been aiding in developing the technology to allow such high-precision timing. This is crucial to accurately detect and verify the signals and their location on-sky between multiple facilities

Dr. Shelley Wright and the rest of the PANOSETI team from UC San Diego.

“Some of the greatest discoveries in physics and astronomy come from looking at the universe in a brand new way.  I can’t wait to see what we find by looking at time scales of nano-seconds”, remarked  Matthew Shetrone, UC Observatories Deputy Director.

The PANOSETI project involves active participation from undergraduate students who remotely operate the equipment from UC San Diego, fostering education and research opportunities for the next generation of UC Observatories astronomers and scientists.

This multi-institutional collaboration puts PANOSETI at the forefront of technosignature research, including the potential for unraveling new astrophysical discoveries. This enhances Lick Observatory’s position as a scientific site that continues to contribute and broaden our knowledge of the universe.

Your support for Panoramic SETI holds immense value as we endeavor to enhance our capabilities in the realm of new discoveries.


PANOSETI Team Members:

Shelley Wright (PI, UC San Diego)

Dave Anderson (UC Berkeley)

Franklin Antonio (Qualcomm), 1954-2022

Michael Aronson (Electronic Packaging Man)

Aaron Brown (UC San Diego)

Samuel Chaim-Weismann (UC Berkeley)

Maren Cosens (UC San Diego)

Frank Drake (SETI Institute), 1930-2022

Paul Horowitz (Harvard)

Andrew Howard (Caltech)

Rachel Kepler (UC San Diego)

Tom Lafleur (Lafleur Designs)

Ryan Lee (UC Berkeley)

Wei Liu (UC Berkeley)

Jérôme Maire (UC San Diego)

Sophie Nathanson (UC San Diego)

Rick Raffanti (Techne Instruments)

Nico Rault-Wang (UC Berkeley)

Guillaume Shippee (UC San Diego)

Bretton Simpson (UC San Diego)

Remington Stone (Lick Observatory)

Richard Treffers (Starman Systems)

Avinash Uttamchandani (Harvard)

Dan Werthimer (UC Berkeley)

James Wiley (UC San Diego)

Media Contacts:

Maryanne Campbell UC Observatories

Michelle Franklin UCSD Astronomy & Astrophysics

One thought on “Exciting news: A major new site expansion at Lick Observatory is on the horizon

  1. I am so excited to see the addition of new technology at Lick. Using the Astrograph dome to help in another all sky survey (albeit not on glass plates!) and positioning a dome on the site of Barnard’s home seems like a great idea.

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