Project META

Project META (Megachannel ExtraTerrestrial Assay)wais a SETI program, conducted from 1985 to 1994 by the Harvard SETI group, using the Harvard-Smithsonian radio telescope.


META was an all-sky search which covered much of the northern sky, between -30 and +60° declination, in drift-scan mode, looking for narrow-band signals near the 21-centimeter line of neutral hydrogen. It overcame the deficiencies of its predecessor, Project Sentinel, by employing an 8.4 million channel Fourier spectrometer of 0.05-Hz resolution bandwidth and 400-kHz instantaneous bandwidth. META was funded by the Planetary Society, through a $100,000 donation from Steven Spielberg, and by grants from NASA and the Bosack-Kruger Foundation.


During its nine years of operation, META identified several dozen candidate events, but none of these were repeated at subsequent observations.1 In 1995, META was superseded by Project BETA, although META II, META's sister program in the southern hemisphere, continued. Project META II used a radio telescope at the Argentine Institute of Radio Astronomy near Buenos Aires.



1. Sagan, C., and Horowitz, P. "Five Years of Project META: An All-Sky Narrowband Radio Search for Extraterrestrial Signals," Astrophysical Journal, 415, 218 (1993).