Famed SETI astronomer retiring, says discovery of alien life ‘very close’
Jill Tarter has devoted most of her adult life to the mission of scanning the sky, in the hopes of one day discovering a signal from above that would finally reveal that human beings are not alone in the universe.
One of the world’s most famous astronomers, she has spent nearly 30 years as the director of the Center for SETI Research at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, Calif., the world’s preeminent scientific organization devoted to the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) and astrobiology, or simply, the evidence of aliens.
“Everybody who is working in the field of exoplanet detection can almost taste it,” said Ms. Tarter, who was the inspiration for Jodie Foster’s character in the sci-fi film Contact. “We’re very close. We’re going to have a rocky planet the size of the Earth, at a distance from a star that’s like the sun, where liquid water is plausible on the surface. (Photos: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images; Wikimedia Commons/Hat Creek Radio Observatory)