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Project Ozma (named after the queen from the magical land of Oz) was the first SETI search carried out in April and July of 1960. Dr. Frank Drake headed the experiment which tried to use an 85-foot radio telescope to tune in to possible radio transmissions, generally corresponding to a frequency of 1420 MHz, coming from other possible civilizations in the universe.

The telescope aimed itself at two stars some 11.6 light years away known as Tau Ceti and Epsilon Eridani, in the constellations Cetus and Eridanus respectively. They chose these stars because they are very much like our own sun and are considered to be the mostly likely stars to find other life on.

With the telescope the astronomers looked for pulses that were either repeated patterns or a series of prime numbers, both of which would have indicated possible intelligent messages. Although they never received any of these intelligent messages they did get a false alarm from a secret military experiment. But other than that the loudspeaker only emitted static and nothing else.

Finally, after 144 hours of searching, they gave up after realizing that the equipment they were using wasn’t sensitive enough to grasp the radio signals they were looking for.

Project Ozma is considered a success, however, for setting up the precedent needed for future SETI experiments.


Chariots Of The Gods by Erich von Däniken