28 January 2010

setiQuest: Out of this World Free Software

I'm constantly amazed and heartened by the new domains in which free software is turning up. Here's a nice one: setiQuest.

For centuries humans have looked at the stars and wondered “are we alone?” Now, setiQuest is an opportunity for you to help answer that question. In 1960, Frank Drake conducted the first scientific search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI). Since then, scientists from many countries have conducted more than 100 projects looking for communication signals from other civilizations. With the spread of the Internet in the 21st century, it is now possible for humans around the globe to participate in a new SETI program.

You can participate as a software developer, signal detection algorithm developer, or a citizen scientist.

Because setiQuest is opening up:

Today's project launch is a first opportunity to get join the setiQuest project yourself. Start by reading the material that's here, mentioning this page on your blog or other social media, and registering your email address with us by clicking on the Stay Informed button in the upper right hand corner above.

If you're a software developer: We plan to start hosting code in the second quarter of 2010. The code will be released gradually in modules rather than all at one time, giving us a chance to provide enough documentation about each module so that the code will be clear to radio-astronomy hobbyists. Staged releases will also allow time for focused online discussion about each module within the setiQuest community, building a searchable archive that further increases everyone's (and the project's) collective understanding. At that point our developers will be doing their daily work on the public code repository and will interact with the public through patch submissions and direct reputation building just like with any other Open Source codebase.

(Via @webmink.)

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