The purpose of SETI@home is to analyse data incoming from the Arecibo radio telescope, searching for possible evidence of radio transmissions from extraterrestrial intelligence.
With over five million participants worldwide, the project is the grid computing project with the most participants to date.
Anybody can participate by running a free of charge program that downloads and analyses radio telescope data.
It performs four tests:
- Searching for spikes in power spectra
- Searching for Gaussian rises and falls in transmission power, possibly representing the telescope beam's main lobe passing over a radio source
- Searching for triplets, three power spikes in a row
- Searching for pulses possibly representing a narrowband digital-style transmission
While the project has not found any conclusive signs of extraterrestrial intelligence, it has identified several candidate spots for further analysis. On September 1, 2004, an interesting signal SHGb02+14a was announced.
I have been participating in the SETI@home project for nearly three years now, and have contributed hundreds of hours to the project.