SETI: All About the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (Infographic)

Charts the history of the search for intelligent aliens.
Are we the only intelligent life in the universe? Here's how we intend to find out. (Image credit: By Karl Tate, Infographics Artist)

The search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) got a boost in July 2015, when investor Yuri Milner and physicist Stephen Hawking (left) announced a new $100 million SETI initiative called Breakthrough Listen.


The first serious, scientific attempt to listen for alien radio signals was Project Ozma in 1960, conducted by astronomer Frank Drake.


Since the invention of radio in 1900, researchers have occasionally detected unexplained signals that have led them to wonder about the possibility of life on other planets. In the 1960s, robotic probes revealed that the other planets of this solar system are not compatible with advanced civilizations. The many other planets and moons in the Milky Way galaxy and in billions of other galaxies in the universe still provide hope for the discovery of alien civilizations.


Popular culture often depicts unidentified flying objects (UFOs) as alien spacecraft and bizarre ancient artifacts as evidence that alien beings visited the Earth in the distant past. Scientists, however, have never found evidence that either of these things have ever occurred and do not take alien UFOs and ancient astronauts seriously.


Astronomer Frank Drake created an equation to estimate the number of intelligent, communicating civilizations currently living in the galaxy.

Join our Space Forums to keep talking space on the latest missions, night sky and more! And if you have a news tip, correction or comment, let us know at:

Karl Tate contributor

Karl's association with goes back to 2000, when he was hired to produce interactive Flash graphics. From 2010 to 2016, Karl worked as an infographics specialist across all editorial properties of Purch (formerly known as TechMediaNetwork).  Before joining, Karl spent 11 years at the New York headquarters of The Associated Press, creating news graphics for use around the world in newspapers and on the web.  He has a degree in graphic design from Louisiana State University and now works as a freelance graphic designer in New York City.