Terms of Reference

SETI is an acronym for the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence. The primary goal is to examine all aspects of possible future contact with extraterrestrial civilizations, with special reference to international issues and activities.

The underlying science of the study of life in the universe includes relevant astrophysical and astronomical phenomena, the nature and distribution of the biogenic elements and compounds, the formation of life-bearing planets, the origin and evolution of biological systems, complex life and intelligence, and the emergence of technological civilizations. Associated missions and technology include planetary science missions designed to search for evidence of extraterrestrial life, the astronomical search for extrasolar planets, and the recovery of possible Martian microfossils on the Earth.

The science and technology of SETI itself includes the development of search strategies, and the underlying intellectual foundation, the design, development, construction and operation of telescopes and signal detection systems, studies of their future location in space or on the lunar farside, rejection of radio frequency interference, the archiving of SETI data, and analysis of search results.

The SETI Permanent Committee will also continue to lead in discussions of the implications of detecting extraterrestrial signals: for example, in the areas of philosophy, historical analogs, anthropology, legal, political and institutional issues, sociology, psychology and theology, and interactions with the media and the educational system. All issues concerning possible future transmissions from Earth deliberately intended for ETI will also be included. Continuing collaboration will be sought with the International Institute of Space Law on some of these questions.

In addressing all of the above, the SETI Permanent Committee will seek learned papers for presentation at the SETI sessions of the International Astronautical Congress, publish the best of these papers in Acta Astronautica or elsewhere, generate and conduct, or support special Academy conferences or studies on important topics, and play a proactive role in the continuing study of extraterrestrial life and intelligence.

Where appropriate, the SETI Permanent Committee will collaborate also with other committees of the Academy and the Federation, with the Bioastronomy Commission of the International Astronomical Union, and other national and international bodies and societies with an interest in SETI.

The SETI Permanent Committee has four areas of particular concern, reflected in subcommittees under the previous IAA organization, each with a list of approved chairs, members, and terms of reference. These areas are:

  1. Issues of Policy Concerning Communications with Extraterrestrial Intelligence. Chair: Ernst Fasan (AUSTRIA)
  2. SETI Post-Detection Science and Technology. Chair: Ray Norris (AUSTRALIA)
  3. Lunar SETI Studies. Chair: Claudio Maccone (ITALY)
  4. Media and Education. Chair: Roger Malina (FRANCE)

The SETI Permanent Committee will normally meet once a year during the International Astronautical Congress.

The IAA SETI web site will be generated and regularly updated by the SETI Permanent Committee. The site will be strictly controlled to a high standard of excellence by a monitor appointed by the SETI Permanent Committee.

These terms of reference exclude any consideration of UFO phenomena.