Jean-Luc Margot, a UCLA professor of Earth, planetary and space sciences, has been awarded a grant from the Planetary Society to lead a radio astronomy Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, or SETI, citizen science project aimed at helping to answer one of the biggest questions in science: Are we alone in the universe?

Margot and his team will sort through terrestrial radio signals and search for evidence of technological activity in the universe. Using the citizen scientist platform Zooniverse, participants will classify signals into categories, which will be used to sort the most promising signals and generate classifications to train a machine learning system for future use.

Margot heads the UCLA SETI Group, which searches a wide range of radio frequencies using the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia. Their observations for this citizen science collaboration focus on 100 stars known to have planets around them. The researchers also can analyze tens of thousands of additional stars and planetary systems. They ultimately aim to study 1 million stars.

Megan Li, who is pursuing her doctorate with the UCLA SETI Group, will help launch the citizen science platform and analyze the results.