Astronomer Portrayed by Jodie Foster in ‘Contact’: Man Will Discover Alien Life by 2100
by Rick Neale March 24, 2018 (floridatoday.com)
• Jill Tarter (pictured above) is a former project scientist and current research chair for the NASA-funded SETI program (the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence). Tarter was the astronomer portrayed by Jodie Foster in the 1997 movie “Contact”, and in 2004 she was named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world.
• Speaking at the Florida Institute of Technology’s Cross Cultural Management Summit in Orlando, Tarter told the audience, “I think that in this century we are going to be finding life beyond Earth.”
• The problem thus far is that the galaxy is just so big. “We’re out in the boondocks. And our star, the sun, is only one of 400 billion other stars in the Milky Way galaxy.” So it is like searching for fish in the ocean by using a water glass, says Tarter.
• Tarter’s conference discussion, entitled “A Cosmic Perspective: Searching for Aliens, Finding Ourselves”, was one of about 75 talks she plans to deliver this year to fundraise for Allen Telescope Array upgrades. In recent years, scientists have focused the ATA on roughly 20,000 nearby stars – mostly small, dim red dwarf stars. Tarter also expressed hope for a new “Laser SETI” initiative. She said the first prototype will be installed within a month and a half at the Lick Observatory, near San Jose, California.
• [Editor’s Note] How can such a brilliant scientist be so oblivious to the ET presence, beings that have studied and manipulated humans on Earth for thousands of years, up to and including the present day? Note that her paycheck comes from SETI, funded by NASA.
ORLANDO — Though scientists have scanned the cosmos for signals from alien civilizations for a half-century, Jill Tarter likens mankind’s micro-scale campaign to searching for fish in the world’s oceans — by withdrawing a 12-ounce glass of water.
“We’re out in the boondocks. And our star, the sun, is only one of 400 billion other stars in the Milky Way galaxy,” Tarter told a conference-room crowd Saturday afternoon.
“And our Milky Way galaxy is only one of about 200 billion other galaxies in the observable universe,” she said.
Tarter — whose astronomical career was portrayed by Jodie Foster in the 1997 movie “Contact” — served as closing speaker during the Florida Institute of Technology’s third Cross Cultural Management Summit at Caribe Royale in Orlando.
The former project scientist for NASA’s SETI program, Tarter is research chair at the nonprofit SETI Institute in Mountain View, California, She has received two NASA Public Service Medals, and in 2004 she was named one of Time’s 100 most influential people in the world.
SETI stands for the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. The SETI Institute owns the Hat Creek Radio Observatory, and Tarter helped develop the facility’s Allen Telescope Array in the Cascade Mountains about 290 miles north of San Francisco.
“I think that in this century we are going to be finding life beyond Earth,” Tarter told the audience.
“We can discover it: We can find biomarkers on planets or moons of our solar system. We can find artifacts in the solar system as we explore. We can look for remote biosignatures in the atmospheres of distant exoplanets,” Tarter said.
“Or, perhaps we can detect the work product of technological civilizations: technosignatures,” she said.
Tarter displayed PowerPoint photos of telescopes, stars and galaxies to the audience. Included were “selfies” of distant Earth, as photographed by Cassini from Saturn’s orbit (2013) and Voyager 1 as the spacecraft was passing Neptune (1990).
“We’re really working on an ancient human question. And that’s very, very rewarding. We might, within the 21st century, have the answer to whether there is life beyond Earth. And we’ve been asking that question for a very, very long time,” she said.
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