Astronomer that searched as inspiration for lead character in Carl Sagan's "Contact".
Renowned American astronomer Jill Tarter was born on January 16, 1944, in New York City. She completed her PhD in astrophysics from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1975. Tarter devoted her career to the scientific search for intelligent life beyond Earth. She held the Bernard M. Oliver Chair for the SETI Institute and served as the director of the Center for SETI Research. SETI stands for the "search for extraterrestrial intelligence."
Tarter's contributions to the field of astronomy and her tireless efforts in promoting SETI research made her a pivotal figure in the scientific community. She was the project scientist for NASA's SETI program, the High Resolution Microwave Survey, and was instrumental in the creation of Project Phoenix, a privately-funded continuation of the High Resolution Microwave Survey. Tarter's work has been recognized with numerous awards, including the Lifetime Achievement Award from Women in Aerospace in 2005 and the TED Prize in 2009. Her life and work served as the inspiration for the lead character in Carl Sagan's novel "Contact," later adapted into a film starring Jodie Foster. Despite the scientific challenges and skepticism associated with SETI, Tarter has remained a steadfast advocate for the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, underscoring its significance for humanity's understanding of our place in the universe.