digplanet beta 1: Athena
Share digplanet:


Applied sciences






















Jill Tarter
Jill Tarter at TED in 2009.jpg
Tarter at TED. Photograph by Steve Jurvetson.
Born (1944-01-16) January 16, 1944 (age 71)
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 former 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]

In 2011, Tarter delivered a talk, “Intelligent Life in the Universe: Is Anybody Out There?,” at the first Starmus Festival in the Canary Islands. The Festival, founded by astronomer Garik Israelian, is a blend of astronomy, allied sciences, music, and art, and Tarter subsequently joined the Starmus Board of Directors, along with Israelian, astrophysicist and Queen founding guitarist Brian May, theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, and others. Her 2011 talk was published in the book Starmus: 50 Years of Man in Space.[6] Jill Tarter is a member of the CuriosityStream Advisory Board. [7]

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)".[14]

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."[15]

In May 2013, the Science Laureates of the United States Act of 2013 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.[16]


  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. ^ http://www.prnewswire.co.uk/news-releases/starmus-festival-and-stephen-hawking-launch-the-book-starmus-50-years-of-man-in-space-274263251.html
  7. ^ "CuriosityStream Advisory Board". Retrieved 31 August 2015. 
  8. ^ CNN: "Scientist probes outer space for aliens". CNN. April 19, 2004. Retrieved October 27, 2008. 
  9. ^ "Past Honorees". Telluride Tech Festival. Retrieved October 15, 2011. 
  10. ^ TIME Magazine: "TIME 100: Jill Tarter". Time. April 26, 2004. Retrieved October 27, 2008. 
  11. ^ "Sagan Prize Recipients". wonderfest.org. 2011. Retrieved September 10, 2011. 
  12. ^ "TED Prizes Go From Deep Sea to Deep Space". Retrieved October 27, 2008. 
  13. ^ "CSI Fellows and Staff". Retrieved August 7, 2011. 
  14. ^ John Boswell (melodysheep), "The Poetry of Reality (An Anthem for Science)" on YouTube, February 25, 2010.
  15. ^ DJ Grothe (October 20, 2006). "Jill Tarter - Are We Alone?". www.pointofinquiry.org (Podcast). Center for Inquiry. Retrieved May 18, 2014. 
  16. ^ 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.
This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia. A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia.
17797 videos foundNext > 

Dr. Jill Tarter - Searching for ET: An Investment in Our Long Future

NASA Ames Research Director's Colloquium, July 31, 2014. Is there life in the Universe besides Earth? This is one of the fundamental questions driving ...

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 ...

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 initial SETI ...

Jill Tarter - Are We Alone

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 has piqued ...

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 the ...

Astronomer Dr. Jill Tarter of SETI Institute (KQED QUEST Science Video Podcast)

KQED QUEST Science Video Podcast.

Jill Tarter - "Are we alone in the universe?"

For more Curious Minds videos, visit https://curiositystream.com and start your 30-day trial.

First Contact - Marc Kaufman, Jill Tarter, Frank Drake, Seth Shostak (SETI Talks)

SETI Talks Archive: http://seti.org/talks For untold centuries, people have looked to the distant skies in search of life -- be it God-like or heavenly, demonic or the ...

17797 videos foundNext > 

984 news items

SETI Institute

SETI Institute
Thu, 17 Sep 2015 10:26:15 -0700

She's a renowned SETI researcher, and member of the SETI Institute's Board of Trustees. And now Jill Tarter has been selected to be the new president of San Francisco's prestigious California Academy of Sciences. Jill Tarter ATA. Jill was pivotal to ...


Wed, 15 Jul 2015 17:11:15 -0700

It was based on a real live female astronomer, Jill Tarter. Tarter's a pioneer for American women astronomers, and the former director of the SETI Institute. Since she was a little girl, she's been fascinated by what else, or who else is out there. And ...


Fri, 30 Oct 2015 08:41:49 -0700

Dr Jill Tarter, holder of the Bernard Oliver Chair at SETI, said that four years of listening to signals has resulted in a collection of 100 million signals and a vast amount of raw data on the frequencies to which they relate. This has given SETI a ...


Thu, 05 Nov 2015 17:08:48 -0800

Allen Telescope Array antennas The Allen Telescope Array looks for alien radio signals. (Credit: Seth Shostak / SETI Institute). The SETI Institute says it hasn't detected any alien radio signals coming from a star whose light seems to be dimming in a ...

Outer Places

Outer Places
Sat, 07 Nov 2015 08:52:30 -0800

It was definitely a long shot, but when every geek and sci-fi enthusiast around the world heard that astronomers may have detected an extraterrestrial Dyson Sphere, they desperately hoped that it would be true. To no one's surprise, however, it looks ...

Universe Today

Universe Today
Thu, 05 Jun 2014 07:40:32 -0700

After nearly four decades of of listening for for signs of life in the cosmos, astronomer Jill Tarter is one of a handful of true experts on the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI). And since 1995 we've known for certain there are other ...

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 ...

Universe Today

Universe Today
Wed, 19 Sep 2012 12:44:04 -0700

In 1985, famed astronomer, author and TV host Carl Sagan invited Jill Tarter to dinner at his house near Cornell University. Tarter, heavily involved with the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence, gladly accepted the chance to speak with Sagan, a ...

Oops, we seem to be having trouble contacting Twitter

Support Wikipedia

A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia. Please add your support for Wikipedia!

Searchlight Group

Digplanet also receives support from Searchlight Group. Visit Searchlight