Is there Open Source Software on Other Planets?



Learn about (and get involved with) setiQuest Explorer, the first application (fully open source) that allows ordinary people to examine radio telescope signals and participate directly in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence.


In her 2009 TED Prize wish, SETI pioneer Jill Tarter asked for the “global brain trust” to engage in the “ultimate search for cosmic company”. We answered the call. A hodgepodge team of programmers, meeting on weekends and hacking into the night, put together setiQuest Explorer, the first “citizen science” application for SETI.

The application — all released under the Mozilla Public License — uses an unusual combination of technology: Adobe’s AIR for Android and Flex for the client, and Ruby on Rails for the server. At the moment, the project is partially complete, and needs volunteers to help it continue. We will be in the hacker lounge at OSBridge working with anyone who wants to help.

In this talk, we’ll tell the funny and interesting story of how we stumbled into this high-profile project, arranged funding, put together a team, built the first version, and launched a private beta. We’ll divulge technical details of how and why we launched an Android application simultaneously with a browser-based desktop web application. And, at the end of the talk, we’ll look together at signals from outer space, perhaps discovering signs of extraterrestrial life right there at OSBridge!

Speaking experience


  • Francis Potter

    The Hathersage Group


    Francis Potter dropped out of Boy Scouts at age 16 to start programming computers, and never looked back. Today he runs The Hathersage Group, a small shop dedicated to building innovative multidevice applications. Along the way, he’s written code in dozens of languages, managed project teams around the world, taught music and sports to orphans in Africa, and learned the secret to folding fitted sheets.