About the SETI Institute

The SETI Institute is the only research organization in the world where the physical, life, and social sciences intersect and are deployed against a singular question: Are we alone?


Research is a Bold Adventure

Our mission is to explore, understand, and explain the origin and nature of life in the universe and to apply the knowledge gained to inspire and guide present and future generations.

Located in the vivid heart of Silicon Valley, California, SETI employs 130 scientists, educators and staff, including “movie star” Jill Tarter, whose career in the search for extraterrestrial life was portrayed in Carl Sagan’s Contact; astrobiologist, extreme diver and mountaineer Nathalie Cabrol; and senior astronomer and reknowned science popularizer Seth Shostak.


“From astrophysics and planetary science to astrobiology and SETI research, our scientists work to unlock the secrets of life in the universe – how it happens and where we might find it.” 

Bill Diamond, President & CEO


The Carl Sagan Center for the Study of Life in the Universe

Each Carl Sagan Center research project is related in some way to understanding the origins of life or the extent to which life may be present beyond Earth. We approach these questions from multiple angles:

• Astronomy & Astrophysics

• Astrobiology

• Climate & Geoscience

• Exoplanets

• Planetary Exploration

• SETI


“Carl Sagan Center researchers are key participants in planetary missions, astronomical observations and discoveries, field expeditions to extreme environments, lab experimentation and computer modeling. Together they are unlocking the secrets of life in the universe, and improving the odds of, one day, making contact with civilizations beyond our solar system.”

Dr. Nathalie Cabrol, Director of the Carl Sagan Center


Ambassadors of Science

“We share our excitement for our work with the world through education, outreach programs and this scientific database: the SETI Polaris. We invite you to discover our science and to contact us to join our quest.”


“Outreach at the SETI Institute is more than just a nice thing to do. It's an essential part of our mission. Not only does it make our research accessible and understandable, it highlights the relevance of our work to the public and it promotes an interest in science among young people.”

Dr. Seth Shostak, Senior Astronomer