The Planetary Society

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New Alliance Ensures Project’s Continuance

The Planetary Society announced today that it will assume the lead
sponsorship role for SETI@home, ensuring the project will continue to
operate. SETI@home enables over 2 million people around the world to
process signals in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI).

The project had been scheduled to end next year in May 2001, but will now
be continued and expanded. The Planetary Society’s sponsorship, part of an
alliance with an integrated media network that is temporarily named Project
Voyager, will also allow the SETI@home team to enhance the project’s scope
and increase its search capability to include regions visible only from the
southern hemisphere.

The distributed computing network of SETI@home operates as the most
powerful computer on Earth, and its progress to date represents the largest
computational task in history. The Planetary Society was the founding
sponsor of SETI@home, which was developed at the University of California,

“The Planetary Society’s expanded role enables SETI@home to become bigger
and better, and continues two decades of Society leadership in the search
for extraterrestrial intelligence,” said Bruce Murray, President of The
Planetary Society. “The Society has supported SETI continuously since 1980
with a dozen different projects around the world.”

The Society’s increased support of SETI@home is part of an unprecedented
new strategic alliance with Project Voyager, led by Ann Druyan of Carl
Sagan Productions and Joe Firmage of Intend Change. The new alliance will
allow the Society to merge the power of space exploration with the
tremendous outreach potential of the Internet, expanding its Internet
presence and initiating new programs for public participation.

“The alliance between The Planetary Society and Project Voyager provides an
exciting opportunity to expand the global experiment of SETI@home and to
associate the respected expertise of the Society with the creative web
savvy of Project Voyager,” said John Logsdon, Director of the Space Policy
Institute at George Washington University and a member of the Society’s
Board of Directors. “The alliance is a win-win situation, with the real
beneficiaries being all those interested in a deeper understanding of the
cosmos and humanity’s place within it.”

While Project Voyager will help fund Society programs, The Planetary
Society will provide science content to Project Voyager’s forthcoming
Internet portal. The Society and Project Voyager also plan to develop
innovative educational material about the SETI@home project, SETI in
general, and the new field of astrobiology.

“The Planetary Society’s mission is to share the wonder, the majesty, and
the discoveries of space exploration with people worldwide,” said Neil
deGrasse Tyson, Director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York, and another
member of the Society’s Board of Directors. “The Society’s alliance with
Project Voyager will leverage this outreach in exciting and innovative ways.”


SETI@home harnesses the unused computing power of millions of
Internet-connected computers to analyze data from the radio telescope at
Arecibo, Puerto Rico, looking for possible signals from extraterrestrial
civilizations. This is the first scientific experiment that directly
involves the worldwide general public.

While no signal has yet been found, the endeavor has just begun, and the
public’s embrace of the project has been astounding. From its on-line debut
on May 17, 1999, SETI@home attracted over one million participants in the
first three months, climbing to two million in one year, with 3,000 to
4,000 new people joining every day.

SETI@home users represent a wide cross-section of the public, ranging in
age from young students to retirees, and from professional engineers to
Internet newcomers. To date, SETI@home is the largest computing experiment
ever undertaken, and participants have collectively logged over 340
millennia worth of computing time.

“The alliance with The Planetary Society and Project Voyager will allow
SETI@home to increase the program’s data processing capability, as well as
to begin analyzing data collected from radio telescopes scanning the
southern hemisphere,” says Dr. David P. Anderson, the director of the
SETI@home project.

The project’s Chief Scientist is Dan Werthimer, who leads UC Berkeley’s
SERENDIP SETI program as well. SETI@home was conceived by computer
scientist David Gedye, along with Craig Kasnoff and astronomer Woody Sullivan.

Signing up for SETI@home is possible at and


Project Voyager is the working title of an integrated media network devoted
to entertainment and learning that draws upon our knowledge of
science. The company is being organized by Joe Firmage of Intend Change
and Ann Druyan of Carl Sagan Productions and has accepted seed capital from
SOFTBANK Venture Capital and Crosspoint Ventures. The company will announce
its name in late summer of 2000, and expects to launch globally in late 2000.

Druyan, a member of the Society’s Board of Directors, is the wife and
collaborator of the late Carl Sagan who co-founded The Planetary Society in
1980. Firmage, an Internet entrepreneur, is a founder of USWeb (now
marchFIRST), an Internet professional services firm, and Intend Change, a
venture construction firm.

For more information about Project Voyager or for a copy of a simultaneous
release issued today by Project Voyager, visit their website at


For more information, contact Susan Lendroth by telephone at (626) 793-5100
ext 214 or by e-mail at