Breakthrough Listen project

April 11, 2018

Why in news:

1. Death of Professor Stephen Hawking (1941-2018)



During Listen observations on March 1, 2018 the SUPERB (SUrvey for Pulsars and Extragalactic Radio Bursts) system, running in parallel with the Listen backend instrument at the Parkes Radio Telescope in Australia, was triggered by a short, bright burst of radio waves, prompting the Listen team to save the raw data from their instrument for detailed analysis.


The Breakthrough Initiatives were founded in 2015 by Yuri and Julia Milner to explore the Universe, seek scientific evidence of life beyond Earth, and encourage public debate from a planetary perspective.


The Breakthrough Initiatives are a program of scientific and technological exploration, probing the big questions of life in the Universe: Are we alone? Are there habitable worlds in our galactic neighborhood? Can we make the great leap to the stars? And can we think and act together – as one world in the cosmos?


It’s one of the biggest questions. And only science can answer it

 What is the project?


Breakthrough Listen is the largest ever scientific research program aimed at finding evidence of civilizations beyond Earth.

The scope and power of the search are on an unprecedented scale:

  • The program includes a survey of the 1,000,000 closest stars to Earth. It scans the center of our galaxy and the entire galactic plane. Beyond the Milky Way, it listens for messages from the 100 closest galaxies to ours.

  • The instruments used are among the world’s most powerful. They are 50 times more sensitive than existing telescopes dedicated to the search for intelligence.

  • The radio surveys cover 10 times more of the sky than previous programs. They also cover at least 5 times more of the radio spectrum – and do it 100 times faster. They are sensitive enough to hear a common aircraft radar transmitting to us from any of the 1000 nearest stars.


In brief:

Breakthrough Listen is a $100 million program of astronomical observations in search of evidence of intelligent life beyond Earth. It is by far the most comprehensive, intensive and sensitive search ever undertaken for artificial radio and optical signals.

A complete survey of the 1,000,000 nearest stars, the plane and center of our galaxy, and the 100 nearest galaxies. All data will be open to the public.


Breakthrough Message is a $1 million competition to design a message representing Earth, life and humanity that could potentially be understood by another civilization.

The aim is to encourage humanity to think together as one world, and to spark public debate about the ethics of sending messages beyond Earth.

Where can life flourish?

In August 2016, a potentially habitable Earth-like planet was discovered orbiting Proxima Centauri – the Sun’s nearest neighbor. Based on the most recent astronomical data, it is likely that there are other such planets in our cosmic neighborhood. With technology now or soon available, it will be possible not only to find them, but to analyze whether they have atmospheres – and whether those atmospheres contain oxygen and other potential signatures of primitive life.

Breakthrough Watch is multi-million dollar astronomical progam to develop Earth- and space-based technologies that can find Earth-like planets in our cosmic neighborhood – and try to establish whether they host life.

 Can we reach the stars?

Life in the Universe does not only mean extraterrestrials. It also means us. No other beings have yet visited us – but neither have we stepped out to the galactic stage. Are we destined to belong to Earth for as long as we survive? Or can we reach the stars?

If we can, the natural first step is our nearest star system, Alpha Centauri – four light years away.

Breakthrough Starshot is a $100 million research and engineering program aiming to demonstrate proof of concept for a new technology, enabling ultra-light unmanned space flight at 20% of the speed of light; and to lay the foundations for a flyby mission to Alpha Centauri within a generation.


Please reload

Please reload

About us:

Follow us on:

  • Facebook Social Icon
  • YouTube Social  Icon
  • Instagram Social Icon


Pursuit IAS is a knowledge portal which seeks to bring quality education to students in easily accessible manner so that students don't get excluded from competition due to their financial or spatial constraints. We seek to provide an equal platform to students from all backgrounds.