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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)", 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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21835 videos foundNext > 

Jill Tarter: Why the search for alien intelligence matters

http://www.ted.com The SETI Institute's Jill Tarter makes her TED Prize wish: to accelerate our search for cosmic company. Using a growing array of radio tel...

Hunting Extraterrestrials: Interview with SETI Icon Jill Tarter

The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence. No other space-related program so effectively stirs our emotions, symbolizes our sense of hope and optimism for...

ATA - Jill Tarter (SETI Talks)

SETI Talks Archive: http://seti.org/talks This talk will put the ATA into context with the rest of the SETI activities around the world and describe the init...

Jill Tarter: Carl Sagan Contacted Me

Jill Tarter tries to find aliens and uses Jodie Foster to help move the process along. Jill Tarter is an astronomer and the Bernard M. Oliver Chair for SETI ...

Calculating the odds of intelligent alien life - Jill Tarter

View full lesson: http://ed.ted.com/lessons/calculating-the-odds-of-intelligent-alien-life Could there be intelligent life on other planets? This question ha...

What Happens After SETI Discovers ET? - Jill Tarter

Complete video at: http://fora.tv/2010/02/23/Jill_Tarter_The_Future_of_SETI_Research If the SETI Institute detects a signal from extraterrestrial life, what ...

The World We Dream- Jill Tarter Zeitgeist Americas 2012

The World We Dream-- Jill Tarter, Chair, SETI Institute. Putting a man on the moon was once simply a dream. What are some of today's most innovative and thou...

Dr. Jill Tarter at Silicon Valley Leaders Symposium

Dr. Jill Tarter, Director, Center for SETI Research, SETI Institute Silicon Valley Leaders Symposium Spring 2011 Hosted by Charles W. Davidson College of Eng...

Jill Tarter: 30 Seconds On Why We Search For Aliens

Jill Tarter tries to answer one of the oldest questions we've got.... Are we alone? Jill Tarter is an astronomer and the Bernard M. Oliver Chair for SETI Res...

Jill Tarter and the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence

Guest: Jill Tarter, Bernard M. Oliver Chair, SETI Institute Host: Karen Bartleson, Sr. Director, Community Marketing, Synopsys Inc. http://youtu.be/KJo7ll7IY...

21835 videos foundNext > 

26 news items

SETI Institute

SETI Institute
Mon, 28 Jul 2014 13:48:45 -0700

Join Jill Tarter August 3 at Universe 2014: Public Science Event. July 28, 2014. Universe 2014: Beyond Earth: Planets, Life, and Intelligence in the Cosmos An Afternoon of Science & Scientific Speculation Sponsored by the Astronomical Society of the ...

SETI Institute

SETI Institute
Tue, 08 Jul 2014 10:43:37 -0700

Jill Tarter The National Radio Astronomy Observatory has selected Jill Tarter to present the 49th annual Jansky Lecture (dates TBD). The Karl G. Jansky Lectureship is an honor established by the trustees of Associated Universities, Inc., to recognize ...

Guardian Liberty Voice

Guardian Liberty Voice
Tue, 29 Jul 2014 14:22:30 -0700

SETI is strapped for cash at the moment, and its director Jill Tarter, the model for Jodie Foster's character Ellie Arroway in the 1997 movie Contact, has stepped down as director of the organization to devote herself to obtaining funding. She has ...
Exchange Morning Post (press release)
Mon, 28 Jul 2014 07:37:30 -0700

5 at 7 p.m. by world-famous astronomer Jill Tarter, whose work inspired the novel and film Contact (Jodie Foster's character in the film was largely based on Tarter). Tarter's presentation, which is co-hosted by the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical ...

Den of Geek (US)

Den of Geek (US)
Tue, 22 Jul 2014 05:22:30 -0700

It was one of those moments that was like when Jill Tarter, who's the head of NASA's [High Resolution Microwave Survey], who in Another Earth, the character of Joan Tallis is based off her. The one who speaks to her other self on the television and ...
Space Ref (press release)
Fri, 18 Jul 2014 19:48:45 -0700

On August 5 as part of the 5th IUPAP International Conference on Women in Physics, Jill Tarter, the Bernard M. Oliver Chair of the SETI Institute, will explore the SETI program's past and future. Are we alone? This question, perhaps more than any other ...

The Sag Harbor Express

The Sag Harbor Express
Fri, 18 Jul 2014 04:22:28 -0700

Jill Tarter, who's the head of SETI at NASA, was the one who presented the award for scientific themes to me, for this movie, so that was one of the most exhilarating, rewarding feelings. DP: I'm the only person who likes the movie Winter's Tale ...
Revista Magazin
Wed, 30 Jul 2014 10:48:45 -0700

Exista o scurta banda desenata in care Jill Tarter, una dintre principalele personalitati ale miscarii SETI, spune: „Dar, Carl, am tot ascultat... Si nu se aude nimic”; la care figura desenata a lui Carl Sagan raspunde (reproducand o vorba deseori ...

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