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SETI x Filecoin

The SETI Institute works with Filecoin to simulate extraterrestrial contact.

In their continuing search for extraterrestrial life, the SETI Institute is utilizing Filecoin to safeguard and share "alien" data with the world.


Astronomical research.


Use case

Backup & Recovery storage for sensitive data.



A highly scalable data storage solution that provides:
  • Data integrity
  • Data security
  • Data durability



Store the Institute’s data on Filecoin, world’s largest decentralized storage network.



The Institute is storing 60+ GiBs of "alien" data with Filecoin, including a decoded ET transmission. 


Humanity has long been fascinated by the possibility of extraterrestrial life. With recent advancements in technology and the discovery of thousands of exoplanets, the search for life beyond our planet has become more realistic than ever before. So… what would happen if we received a message from an extraterrestrial civilization? The SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute, artist Daniela de Paulis, an international team of experts and Filecoin collaborated to find out.

A Sign in Space, a revolutionary presentation of global theater, explored the process of decoding and interpreting an extraterrestrial message by engaging the worldwide SETI community, professionals from different fields and the broader public.

On May 24, 2023, the European Space Agency's ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) in orbit around Mars transmitted an encoded message to Earth to simulate receiving a signal from extraterrestrial intelligence.

Next, three world-class radio astronomy observatories detected and processed the encoded message. These include the SETI Institute’s Allen Telescope Array (ATA), the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope (GBT) at the Green Bank Observatory (GBO), and the Medicina Radio Astronomical Station observatory managed by Italian National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF).

Finally, The SETI Institute securely stored the processed message with Filecoin, the world's largest decentralized storage network, to ensure the preservation and accessibility of message data while safeguarding its availability for further analysis and decoding endeavors. 

ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter - courtesy of ESA
ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter - courtesy of ESA
Allen Telescope Array - courtesy of the SETI Institute
Allen Telescope Array - courtesy of the SETI Institute
Green Bank Telescope - courtesy of NSF
Green Bank Telescope - courtesy of NSF

Problem: Traditional Cloud Storage Solutions are Susceptible to Censorship

Storing the first ever message from an extraterrestrial civilization in a safe, reliable and resilient manner was a top priority for the SETI Institute. While traditional public cloud providers are a great fit for certain industries and use cases, protecting history-altering data is not one of them.

Traditional cloud provider challenges include:   

Data Breaches
Having the “Message” stored in only a handful of data centers could increase the possibility of a malicious attack like a data breach. Hackers often see these servers as “honeypots” to steal or manipulate data.

Data Outages
Other hacks, such as DDoS attacks, are also a common problem for traditional cloud storage services where a single vulnerability could lead to millions of people being unable to access the “Message” for an extended period of time.

Centralized cloud storage providers often receive pressure from governments and institutions to police or takedown websites which could open the doors to censorship of the “Message”.

Solution: Protecting the “Message” With Filecoin

Franck Marchis, Senior Astronomer at the SETI Institute, identified and selected Filecoin as a data storage solution for “A Sign in Space” because of its unique combination of security, resiliency and durability. Decentralized storage solutions like Filecoin provide organizations like the SETI Institute with more flexibility and control over their data. This approach differs from traditional cloud storage where data is stored in a centralized location. With decentralized storage, data is stored across a network of computers. This provides advantages over conventional cloud storage including:

Enhanced Data Security
Filecoin leverages immutability and decentralization to provide storage that is more tamper resistant to malware and bad actor exploits than traditional storage. Filecoin never updates data in place — it always writes a new data object that is completely separate from the prior “version” without deleting the original copy. Once written, an object cannot be edited, providing read-only access to the data state at the time it was written but no ability to modify that data, making any kind of ransomware exploit extremely unlikely. 

Increased Data Availability               
Because organizations can specify the level of resiliency they need to meet availability requirements, Filecoin provides the flexibility to go far beyond what any traditional public cloud storage provider will guarantee. With Filecoin, no two replicas are ever stored on the same physical storage system, which increases data durability.

Data Integrity
Filecoin completes data verification checks every 24 hours to ensure copies of client data are always identical to the original. The “Message” that’s uploaded by the Institute will not be altered.


"We're thrilled to work with the SETI Institute on this groundbreaking project," said Stefaan Vervaet, Head of Network Growth at Protocol Labs, the company behind Filecoin. "Our decentralized data storage solutions are ideally suited for the secure and reliable storage of the vast amounts of data generated by this project."



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