Optical SETI    updated March 4, 2016  D. Carrigan carrigan@fnal.gov (subject line must be sensible)

(My SETI interest is not funded by Fermilab or the U. S. Department of Energy. This portion of the site is needed to illustrate other interconnections related to Fermilab.)
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Optical SETI

optical SETI

Some  optical SETI  sites:

Columbus optical SETI (COSETI)

Harvard, Princeton

Berkeley optical SETI

Lick optical SETI

Pros and cons of optical SETI


  • a pulsed nanosecond laser source can be thousands of times brighter than a sun

  • there are no  nanosecond astronomical background sources that mimic pulsed optical SETI although there are cosmic ray artifacts that must be eliminated by coincidence methods

  • SETI optical receivers and associated software may be cheaper than radio SETI equivalents

  • both pro and con: optical receivers view a narrow angular cone. This means the gain is higher but it is necessary to be sure that the field of view takes in the whole planetary  system


  • extinction effects in the plane of the galaxy beyond 1000 ly

  • as with radio sources must address possibility of Doppler shift for narrow frequency band signals

Maser and laser astronomical sources
  • Natural astronomical maser signals can be very powerful. Could an advanced civilization modulate a natural source?