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Jill Tarter
Jill Tarter at TED in 2009.jpg
Tarter at TED. Photograph by Steve Jurvetson.
Born (1944-01-16) January 16, 1944 (age 70)
Nationality United States
Alma mater University of California at Berkeley
Cornell University
Occupation Astronomer

Jill Cornell Tarter (born January 16, 1944) is an American astronomer and the outgoing director of the Center for SETI Research, holding the Bernard M. Oliver Chair for SETI at the SETI Institute.[1][2][3]


Tarter received her undergraduate education at Cornell University, where she earned a Bachelor of Engineering Physics Degree, and a Master's degree and PhD in astronomy from the University of California at Berkeley.[4]

Astronomy career[edit]

Tarter has worked on a number of major scientific projects, most relating to the search for extraterrestrial life. As a graduate student, she worked on the radio-search project SERENDIP, and created the corresponding backronym, "Search for Extraterrestrial Radio Emissions from Nearby Developed Intelligent Populations." She was project scientist for NASA's High Resolution Microwave Survey (HRMS) in 1992 and 1993 and subsequently director of Project Phoenix (HRMS reconfigured) under the auspices of the SETI Institute. She was co-creator with Margaret Turnbull of the HabCat in 2002, a principal component of Project Phoenix. Tarter has published dozens of technical papers and lectures extensively both on the search for extraterrestrial intelligence and the need for proper science education. She is credited with coining the term "brown dwarf" for the classification of stars with insufficient mass to sustain hydrogen fusion.[5] She has spent 35 years in the quest for extraterrestrial life and announced her retirement in 2012.[3]

Honors and awards[edit]

Tarter's work in astrobiology and her success as a female scientist have garnered achievement awards from several scientific organizations.

In popular culture[edit]

Tarter's astronomical work is illustrated in Carl Sagan's novel Contact. In the film version of Contact, the protagonist Ellie Arroway is played by Jodie Foster. Tarter conversed with the actress for months before and during filming, and Arroway was "largely based" on Tarter's work.[4] She has also been featured in John Boswell's Symphony of Science music video, "The Poetry of Reality (An Anthem for Science)".[12]

On October 20, 2006, Tarter appeared on the Point of Inquiry podcast to discuss the question: "Are we alone?". Tarter stated "Humans will have a different view about being human if and when we know the answer to the 'Are we alone?' question"[13]

In May 2013, the Science Laureates of the United States Act of 2013 (H.R. 1891; 113th Congress) was introduced into Congress. Jill Tarter was listed by one commentator as a possible nominee for the position of Science Laureate, if the act were to pass.[14]


  1. ^ SETI Institute Official Website – Jill Tarter biography
  2. ^ Overbye, Dennis (18 June 2012). "A Career Waiting for E.T. to Phone". New York Times. Retrieved 19 June 2012. 
  3. ^ a b "Alien hunter retires after 35-year quest for E.T.". Fox News. May 22, 2012. Retrieved May 22, 2012. 
  4. ^ a b Space.com: "Dr. Jill Tarter: Looking to Make 'Contact'". Retrieved October 27, 2008. [dead link]
  5. ^ Brown dwarf – History Retrieved September 24, 2010
  6. ^ CNN: "Scientist probes outer space for aliens". CNN. April 19, 2004. Retrieved October 27, 2008. 
  7. ^ "Past Honorees". Telluride Tech Festival. Retrieved October 15, 2011. 
  8. ^ TIME Magazine: "TIME 100: Jill Tarter". Time. April 26, 2004. Retrieved October 27, 2008. 
  9. ^ "Sagan Prize Recipients". wonderfest.org. 2011. Retrieved September 10, 2011. 
  10. ^ "TED Prizes Go From Deep Sea to Deep Space". Retrieved October 27, 2008. 
  11. ^ "CSI Fellows and Staff". Retrieved August 7, 2011. 
  12. ^ John Boswell (melodysheep), "The Poetry of Reality (An Anthem for Science)" on YouTube, February 25, 2010.
  13. ^ DJ Grothe (October 20, 2006). "Jill Tarter - Are We Alone?". www.pointofinquiry.org (Podcast). Center for Inquiry. Retrieved May 18, 2014. 
  14. ^ Marlow, Jeffrey (9 May 2013). "The Science Laureate of the United States". Wired Magazine. Retrieved 12 September 2013. 

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jill_Tarter — Please support Wikipedia.
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19 news items

SETI Institute

SETI Institute
Wed, 03 Sep 2014 10:03:45 -0700

Jill Tarter The National Radio Astronomy Observatory has selected Jill Tarter to present the 49th annual Jansky Lecture, entitled: Are We Alone? Searching for Intelligent Life Beyond Earth. This free event takes place at our three facilities: On Oct ...

Montreal Gazette

Montreal Gazette
Tue, 30 Sep 2014 07:37:30 -0700

... who has been involved in NASA robotic space exploration missions; Sara Seager, astrophysicist, planetary scientist and a pioneer in the mysterious world of exoplanets; and physicist/astronomer Jill Tarter, who has devoted most of her career to the ...


Mon, 22 Sep 2014 03:09:19 -0700

Jill Tarter, director of SETI, wants us to help her institute in the search for intelligent life in the universe. SETI, or Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence, is a scientific experiment anyone can join. The theory behind this huge undertaking is ...
McGill Reporter
Mon, 22 Sep 2014 09:55:12 -0700

The event will feature four expert speakers, Drs. Jim Bell, President of the Planetary Society & Professor at Arizona State University; Jill Tarter of the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute; Sara Seager, Professor of Planetary ...
Sat, 27 Sep 2014 02:11:15 -0700

神秘的外星人是否真的存在,这个课题一直吸引着众多科学家去探寻。据外媒报道,美国艾伦望远镜阵列前高级科学家吉尔`塔特(Jill Tarter)为了寻找外星人,已经花费了38年时间。 吉尔称,考虑到宇宙的历史,任何人类可以与 ...

La Opinión de Tenerife

La Opinión de Tenerife
Sat, 20 Sep 2014 18:18:45 -0700

Sobre ello, asegura, ha hablado en varias ocasiones con Jill Tarter, directora del SETI. Afirma que ahora tienen unas "mega-antenas" para captar señales con los telescopios Allen, financiados a través de la Fundación Paul Allen con 70 millones de dólares.


Mon, 15 Sep 2014 07:37:30 -0700

... redonda contará con la participación de los premios Nobel, Robert Wilson y Harold Kroto, que en esta edición están invitados al congreso Starmus; además de los cosmonautas Alexei Leonov, Charles Duke, Walter Cunnighan o la investigadora Jill Tarter ...


Wed, 03 Sep 2014 01:40:12 -0700

Jill Tarter es una astrofísica estadounidense que se dedica a buscar vida alienígena en SETI. “En vista de la historia de la galaxia, la civilización con la que nos comuniquemos será más antigua que la nuestra”, declaró la semana pasada a Popular Science.

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