It aims for discovery and for sharing knowledge as scientific ambassadors to the public, the press, and the government. SETI stands for the "search for extraterrestrial intelligence". The Institute consists of three primary centers: The Carl Sagan Center, devoted to the study of life in the universe, the Center for Education, focused on astronomy, astrobiology and space science for students and educators, and the Center for Public Outreach, producing "Big Picture Science," the Institute's general science radio show and podcast, and "SETI Talks" weekly colloquium series.
Prior to the inception of the SETI Institute, NASA was funding a small project in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. John Billingham, Chief of Life Sciences at NASA Ames Research Center and Bernard (Barney) Oliver, formerly of Hewlett-Packard invited Tom Pierson and others into discussions about maximizing the effectiveness of the funds, and ways of putting more money into the research and less into the institutional overhead.
These discussions led to the concept of a dedicated non-profit research organization focused on research and education around the factors of the Drake Equation. This vision was realized in the 1984 incorporation of the SETI Institute.
Funding for SETI Institute programs comes from a variety of sources. Contrary to popular belief, and their Form 990, no government funds are allocated for its SETI searches – these are financed entirely by private contributions. Other astrobiology research at the SETI Institute may be funded by NASA, the National Science Foundation, or other grants and donations.TeamSETI is the SETI Institute's worldwide membership and support organization.
According to en.wikipedia and seti.org