SETI INSTITUTE

Seeing the Sombrero Galaxy Seen From Cities
Published 5/31/2018 in Franck Marchis Blog Author Franck Marchis
I am happy to share with you an update from Unistellar. Our team has recently collected a pair of images of the glorious Sombrero Galaxy (M104 in the Messier Catalog) taken during one of the most recent observing runs. Both images were taken in heavily light-polluted environments, the first near Marseille, in the south of France, on May 17 and the second from San Francisco, California on May 14. As usual, these are unedited images, and they clearly show what you can see with our eVscope prototype after just a few hundreds of seconds of observing.   Sombrero Galaxy (M104) taken from San Francisco, on... read more ❯

SETI Alumni: Portrait of Sarah Blunt
Published 5/5/2017 in Franck Marchis Blog Author Franck Marchis
Sarah Blunt, REU student class of 2015, is today a full member of the Gemini Planet Imager Exoplanet Survey. Together with SETI researcher Eric Nielsen and Franck Marchis, she has developed an innovative method to fit the orbits of directly imaged exoplanets. She has published her work in Astronomical Journal and is a recipient of an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship that will fund her graduate school. Here her story. Every year the SETI Institute hosts several interns who work with our researchers through a Research Experience for Undergraduates (or REU) program funded by the National Science Foundation. We often wonder what... read more ❯

Let's be careful about this "SETI" signal
Published 8/29/2016 in Franck Marchis Blog Author Franck Marchis
August 31: See update at the end of this post Several readers have contacted me recently about reports that a group of international astronomers have detected a strong signal coming from a distant star that could be a sign of a high-technology civilization. Here’s my reaction: it’s interesting, but it’s definitely not the sign of an alien civilization—at least not yet. Here’s why: The signal was first detected in May 2015 and has not repeated since. Unfortunately, although international protocols call for alerting the astronomical community to the detection of a mysterious signal, the... read more ❯

Des mondes similaires au nôtre cachés dans des centaines d’exoplanètes ? SETI PR en Francais
Published 6/9/2014 in Franck Marchis Blog Author Franck Marchis
Communiqué de presse de l'Institut SETI et de CASCA Monday, June 09 2014 - 12:15pm, PDT Mountain View, CA - Cette année a été intense pour les chasseurs d’exoplanètes, ces planètes autour d’autres étoiles. Une équipe d'astronomes de l’Institut SETI et du centre de recherche de la NASA Ames a découvert 715 nouvelles exoplanètes enfouies dans les données du télescope spatial Kepler. Ces nouveaux mondes qui tournent autour de 305 étoiles différentes, constituent des systèmes planétaires multiples, similaires a notre système solaire, lui-même constitué de huit planètes. L’annonce de cette découverte a été suivie par une nouvelle encore plus importante dans le monde... read more ❯

Meeting the Team: GPI Science Meeting November 2013
Published 1/6/2014 in Gemini Planet Imager Author Jason Wang
The Gemini Planet Imager (GPI) team held our latest science meeting November 1-2, 2013, right before GPI saw first starlight. The meeting was hosted by the SETI Institute at their office in Mountain View, CA (for those curious, I did not find any signs of aliens there). Continuing with tradition, we took a group picture of the GPI team. You can tell it has grown significantly from the past. Building an instrument as complex as the Gemini Planet Imager (GPI) and using it to directly image planets... read more ❯

The Next Step in Exoplanetary Science: Imaging New Worlds
Published 12/27/2013 in Franck Marchis Blog Author Franck Marchis
In 2003, I was lucky enough to be part of a small group of astronomers that met at the University of California at Berkeley to brainstorm on an innovative idea: the design of an instrument to image and characterize planets around other stars, called exoplanets, using a telescope in the 8 – 10 meter class. A decade later, such an instrument became reality with the arrival of the Gemini Planet Imager (called also GPI, or “Gee-pie”) instrument at the Gemini South telescope in Chile. Five known planetary systems imaged with current adaptive optics systems. Fomalhaut shown on... read more ❯

Fate of Planetary Habitability highlighted at the AGU Fall Meeting
Published 12/11/2013 in Franck Marchis Blog Author Franck Marchis
Together with Cynthia Phillips, one of my SETI Institute colleagues, I will convene a session at the AGU Fall meeting tomorrow afternoon (oral) and Friday December 13 (poster) entitled "Rapid Environmental Change and the Fate of Planetary Habitability". This session will be an opportunity to see recent works on the adaptability of life in abrupt climate crises. Recent discoveries inspire us to re-examine our understanding of how rapidly planetary habitats can be redistributed. Past habitable environments on Mars from the Curiosity rover, possible subsurface lakes on Europa, and potentially habitable exoplanets from the Kepler spacecraft continue to expand our definition of the... read more ❯

GPI is ready for its new location in Chile
Published 8/2/2013 in Gemini Planet Imager Author Franck Marchis
It is now official, The Gemini Planet Imager ("Gee-pi") is ready for shipping to Chile. This decision was taken on July 19 after the positive pre-delivery acceptance review. From its current home at the University of California Santa Cruz, the instrument’s Integral Field Spectrograph (IFS) began its warm-up a week later (July 25th), and the computers were shut-down two days ago (July 31st). GPI is going to be carefully packed for a long trip to Chile. The instrument will be shipped... read more ❯

SETI Institute Waved at Saturn
Published 7/19/2013 in Franck Marchis Blog Author Franck Marchis
Like several thousand people, the SETI Institute waved at Saturn on Friday July 19 at 2:27pm for ~15 min. In full day light, it was impossible to see Saturn on the east close to the horizon but we trusted our local astronomers (and several App on iPhone) to wave and smile in the right direction toward the gaseous planet. It is likely that the Cassini spacecraft had recorded  80 min later a glimpse of photons coming from us. It was fun to participate to this "global moment of cosmic... read more ❯

Featuring the Women Of Science #WomenOfScience
Published 3/5/2013 in Franck Marchis Blog Author Franck Marchis
Today I would like to share with you an idea for the International Women's day on March 8 2013.  If you work in an institution, university, or non-profit related to science, have you taken note of the number of women around you? In astronomy and planetary science, it is not too bad even if it is not perfect, but some "hard" science groups, like physics or computer science, clearly have a low proportion of women in their ranks. I will not elaborate on the reasons for such lack of representation; instead, I propose to focus on the bright side. Yes, there... read more ❯

Kepler is Sick and Resting: "Mountain View, we have a problem"
Published 1/17/2013 in Franck Marchis Blog Author Franck Marchis
"Mountain View, we have a problem..." NASA Kepler Manager at NASA Ames, Mountain View announced today that they interrupted the science operation of the spacecraft, due an issue with one of the reaction wheels.  Kepler is equipped with four reaction wheels which are used to accurately point the telescope. One failed in July 2012 and today the team announced that they detected issues with a second one. Kepler needs three reaction wheels to be used properly, if this one fails the mission is most likely over. That's not good news. The team detected an increase of friction on reaction wheel #4 on January... read more ❯

AGU Fall Meeting 2012 - Planetary Evolution and the Fate of Planetary Habitability
Published 12/2/2012 in Franck Marchis Blog Author Franck Marchis
Tomorrow is the first day of the AGU Fall Meeting, in San Francisco, CA. I love this conference, not only because it is 30 min door-to-door from my house, but also because it is BIG... Last year there were ~27,000 registered geoscientists, and there is no reason there should be less of them this year. With more than 29 parallel sessions in diverse  topics such as Atmospheric Sciences, Hydrology, Natural Hazards, Biosphere, Volcanology, Cryosphere, Education and of course Planetary Sciences, plus several social events, and press conferences, it will be a feast for scientists, science reporters and the public. Several press conferences and... read more ❯

Gemini Planet Image joined the Cosmic Diary Network
Published 6/12/2012 in Gemini Planet Imager Author Franck Marchis
The Gemini Planet Imager team is joining the Cosmic Diary Network. GPI is the next generation adaptive optics instrument being built for the Gemini South Telescope. The goal is to image extrasolar planets orbiting nearby stars. The GPI team will use this blog to show the progress on the development of this instrument and discuss the science results which will be obtained in 2013. WHO: GPI is being built by a consortium of U.S. and Canadian institutions, funded by the Gemini Observatory, which is an international partnership comprising the U.S.A., U.K., Canada, Australia, Argentina, Brazil & Chile. WHEN: After more than 5 years of development (preliminary design review... read more ❯

Thoughts about a beautiful NASA video - Save Our Science
Published 5/8/2012 in Franck Marchis Blog Author Franck Marchis
Today I am feeling inspired and motivated. It could easily have not been the case since the day started with a massive crash of my email inbox, a difficult review of a recently submitted paper, and some issues with my simulation that I am planning to present at the ACM conference next week – not to mention a lack of sleep. Still, all of this became irrelevant when I watched NASA’s new promotional video attached below. Sometimes it is good to be reminded how lucky we are to be part of this adventure. Never in the history of mankind have we had access to... read more ❯

Searching for Fragments of the Sutter's Mill Meteorite
Published 4/26/2012 in Franck Marchis Blog Author Franck Marchis
An update about the Sutter's Mill Meteorite that I mentioned yesterday. A few hours ago, I saw the pieces that Peter Jenniskens brought at the SETI Institute. I am not a meteorite expert but they indeed look like a carbonaceous chondrite meteorite. The fragments are black, with tiny white flecks scattered through the interior. On the surface, one can see black coating due to the heating during the passage through the Earth atmosphere. While watching them, I had this unreal... read more ❯

1 3