DearColleague.us

Letter

Mark DeSaulnier

From the office of:

Mark DeSaulnier

Sending Office: Honorable Mark DeSaulnier
Sent By:
Mia.Mazer@mail.house.gov

        Request for Signature(s)

Deadline: COB Today, March 9th

Current Co-Signers: Brownley, D. Davis, S. Davis, DeGette, Engel, Garcia, Heck, Horsford, Jayapal, Larsen, Lee, Levin, Malinowski, Miller, Morelle, Panetta, Sanchez, Schrier, Takano, Titus

Dear Colleague:

Please join us in urging the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, and Science to include $10 million for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to fund the search for and analysis of technosignature research, commonly
known as the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI). One of NASA’s key objectives is the study of the origins, evolution, distribution, and future of life in the universe. Searches for life include on-site sampling (e.g. NASA’s Mars program), biosignature
searches of exoplanet atmospheres such as those to be undertaken by the next generation of space telescopes, and searches for technosignatures (indicators of technologically advanced life beyond Earth).

In the nearly 30 years since an amendment to the CJS appropriations bill terminated NASA funding for SETI, NASA has provided only three grants totaling $1.6 million for research associated with the direct search for extraterrestrial intelligent life through
the use of electromagnetic signals. Dedicated funding for technosignature research is especially critical as scientific realization of planets capable of hosting life increases and capabilities in computing and instrumentation that enable ever more powerful
technosignature searches grow. While we are lagging behind in funding this important program, China and others are making advancements.

Please join us in reversing decades of under-investment by joining this letter by March 9th. If you have any questions, please contact Mia Mazer (DeSaulnier) at Mia.Mazer@mail.house.gov or
Eric Henshall (Eshoo) at Eric.Henshall@mail.house.gov. To sign on, please fill out the form here.

Sincerely,

 

Mark DeSaulnier                                 Anna Eshoo

Member of Congress                          Member of Congress

 

Letter Text

Dear Chairman Serrano and Ranking Member Aderholt:

As you begin consideration of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2021 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) appropriations bill, we write to request $10 million for technosignature research, also known as the search for intelligent life beyond Earth.
One of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) key objectives is the study of the origins, evolution, distribution, and future of life in the Universe.[1] Searches
for life include in-situ sampling (e.g. NASA’s Mars program), biosignature searches of exoplanet atmospheres such as those to be undertaken by the next generation of space telescopes, and searches for technosignatures (indicators of technologically advanced
life beyond Earth). Although NASA is currently spending billions of dollars on in-situ and biosignature research, they have provided only three grants totaling $1.6 million for research associated with the direct search for extraterrestrial intelligent life
through the use of electromagnetic signals for the past 25 years according to a recent Office of the Inspector General report.[2]

The need for explicit direction to fund the search for and analysis of technosignatures is a result of its funding history. In 1993, then-Senator Richard Bryan’s (D-NV) amendment to the CJS appropriations bill terminated NASA funding for the High Resolution
Microwave Survey, which funded the search for intelligent life. At the time, this amounted to $12 million per year, which, while only 0.1% of the NASA budget, was a transformational amount for a small and historically underfunded field. Technosignature searches
have struggled for funding in the three decades since, despite the increasing scientific realization that planets capable of hosting life are common, and despite increasing capabilities in computing and instrumentation that enable ever more powerful technosignature
searches.[3] In 2018, NASA convened around 100 experts at a multidisciplinary Technosignature Workshop to solicit input for a potential
renewed technosignature program at NASA. The workshop report concluded that “searches for technosignatures are … a potential motivating science case across NASA’s science portfolio.”[4]

We request that the Committee include the following report language in the FY2021 CJS bill:

Technosignatures– The recommendation includes $10,000,000 for NASA to support research to search for and analyze technosignatures in order to meet the NASA objective to search for life’s origin, evolution, distribution, and future in the universe.
The funds are intended to support a mix of peer-reviewed scientific research, graduate fellowships, postdoctoral fellowships, and any required observational infrastructure. Given the origin of the search for extraterrestrial intelligence within NASA’s High
Resolution Microwave Survey program, and the Committee’s desire to grow the domestic research enterprise in technosignature research, the Committee expects NASA to provide funding under this program exclusively to U.S. colleges and universities, U.S. government
research institutions and observatories, and nonprofit scientific institutions. Grantmaking philanthropic or for-profit organizations managed or primarily funded by citizens of Russia, or on the NASA
Designated Countries list
 (August 16, 2019), are expressly forbidden to receive funds authorized herein. The Committee supports NASA’s commitment to utilizing public-private partnerships to advance its science and exploration agenda, and this funding is
not intended to prevent U.S. colleges and universities, US government research institutions and observatories and nonprofit scientific institutions from receiving funding from outside sources.

We thank you for your consideration of this request and for your support of NASA’s science mission, and we hope you will play a critical role in reversing thirty years of underinvestment in this critical field of research.

 

Sincerely,

 


[1] https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/atoms/files/nasa_2018_strategic_plan.pdf (page
10)

[2] https://oig.nasa.gov/docs/IG-19-011.pdf (pages 3-4)

[3] https://exoplanets.nasa.gov/what-is-an-exoplanet/how-do-we-find-habitable-planets/

[4]  https://www.hou.usra.edu/meetings/technosignatures2018/

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