This week, the SETI Institute, which uses radio telescopes to search for signals that just may have emanated from another civilization, announced that the search for life has temporarily been supplanted by a search for funding. Financial difficulties are forcing the Allen Telescope Array at Hat Creek Observatory offline. The array consists of 42 antennas scanning the sky, and it’s SETI’s most powerful tool in pursuing its quest.

SETI’s Dr. Jill Tarter, the inspiration for the Jodie Foster character in the novel and movie Contact, yesterday visited KQED and sat down with us for an interview. Below Tarter talks about the exciting planetary discoveries made by NASA’s Kepler program; about the three times she thought they had detected a genuinely alien signal; and about what SETI would do if they confirmed that a signal was genuine. (They wouldn’t reply until there was a global consensus.)

On the time she thought for 24 hours that a signal was actually from another civilization, which leaked to the Wall Street Journal

On what SETI would do if they confirmed a genuine signal

On the planetary discoveries of the Kepler telescope


Jon Brooks

Jon Brooks is the host and editor of KQED’s health and technology blog, Future of You. He is the former editor of KQED’s daily news blog, News Fix. A veteran blogger, he previously worked for Yahoo! in various news writing and editing roles. He was also the editor of, which documented user-generated content about the financial crisis and recession. Jon is also a playwright whose work has been produced in San Francisco, New York, Italy, and around the U.S. He has written about film for his own blog and studied film at Boston University. He has an MFA in Creative Writing from Brooklyn College.

Sponsored by

Become a KQED sponsor