Since the early 70’s, Jill Tarter has had her eyes on the sky. Her eyes and an array of high powered radio telescopes, that is. On May 22, Ms. Tarter announced her retirement from Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence Institute (SETI) after 35 years of tireless alien hunting.
When SETI lost government funding in the late nineties (which had been via NASA), Ms. Tarter stayed on, helping the institute thrive as a non-profit venture. Today, the institute has over 150 employees and is pursuing a diverse agenda including radio signal monitoring and astrobiology.
For a recent article on Space.com, Ms. Tarter commented that “The Institute is far bigger than I ever envisioned it would be when we incorporated it in 1984 with very modest goals to save NASA money. We have a very vibrant institution of astrobiology, and also education and public outreach, that most people don't know about."
Though she is retiring from SETI, Jill will continue working full time on fundraising for the institute. She is excited about the direction it is taking, especially with regards to Kepler worlds, candidates for alien planets discovered by NASA’s Kepler space telescope. Though the discovery of alien life remains elusive, Ms. Tarter remains hopeful: 'You know, Earth 2.0 — that's just right around the corner. We can almost taste it.'"