lundi 11 mars 2013

Interview avec Jill Tarter, astronome et ancienne directrice du SETI

Le Dr Jill Tarter est américaine. Docteur en astronomie (Université de Berkeley), elle s’intéresse très tôt à la détection d’éventuelles traces de vie extraterrestre.
(Crédit Photo : SETI)
Elle travaille pour le SETI et la NASA sur différents programmes de détection d’une autre civilisation au moyen de radiotélescopes et de télescopes (SERENDIP, HRMS, Projet Phoenix, etc…).
Elle est également la créatrice du terme ‘’Etoile Brune’’ (Brown Dwarf), ces étoiles qui ont une masse insuffisante pour garder une fusion d’hydrogène.

Ancienne directrice du SETI, elle occupe la chaire Bernard M. Oliver (scientifique 1916 - 1995) au SETI Institute.
Ses travaux et son implication pour l’accès aux sciences à tous (notamment aux femmes) ont été maintes fois récompensés (NASA, Women in Aerospace, etc…). Time Magazine l’a même élue une des 100 personnes les plus influentes au monde en 2004.

Son travail, son engagement et sa personnalité, ont nettement influencé Carl Sagan dans son livre Contact. Son personnage a inspiré l’héroïne de ce roman, Ellie Arroway (interprétée par Jodie Foster dans le film du même nom).
Interview réalisée en mars 2013 en marge de la conférence 100 Year Starship qui se déroulait à Bruxelles (Belgique).
What is your job and why have you choose to do it ?
I work on the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SEI) – an attempt to use modern radio and optical telescopes to detect evidence of another distant technological civilization. ‘’Are we alone ?’’ is a very old and very important human question.
For millennia, we have asked the priests and philosophers and other wise individuals what we should believe.
Today, we have the tools to explore the cosmos to find out what the answer is, and I ma excited about  being part of that scientific exploration.
Would you like to go in space ? And why ?
I would love to go into space in order to view our small planet in its cosmic setting, and better understand our place in the universe.
Since my initial year at university I have wanted to be the first woman on the moon; sadly, as my 70th birthday approaches it doesn't seem likely that I will achieve that goal.
I applied for the astronaut program, but NASA did not share my enthusiasm about my own capabilities, and I was not selected. However, as entrepreneurs open up sub-orbital opportunities for the public to access space, perhaps I will be able to add that personal experience to my years of studying space remotely with radio telescopes.
Did you think it's important for the mankind to have a step in space, to send man in space and why ?
The technological innovations we have achieved by tackling the huge challenges of spaceflight have provided improved quality of life for all of us on Earth.
We need to continue to embrace these bold adventures to strive to accomplish more than we might have thought possible.
From space, the artificial, political borders that divide us are no longer visible and it is possible to appreciate ourselves as "Earthlings". Spaceflight is difficult and expensive and is one endeavor that invites global cooperation (even though its past history has been one of national competition).
Working on the SETI project is another global activity that can potentially trivialize the perceived differences among humans.

Why support yourselves the project 100 Year Starship (100YSS.ORG) ?
We have many problems on Earth that require technological and sociological solutions.
The audacious adventure of preparing for a starship within the century offers inspiration to all (but especially the young) and motivation to cooperate and think laterally; thereby potentially arriving at solutions to problems that can transfer back into our daily existence and improve the quality of life for all Earthlings.

What represent for you Yuri Gagarin ?
The man and the myth are now difficult to disentangle, but surely he had a bold heart, determination and courage.
I think that the growing popularity of annual 'Yuri's Night' celebrations with young people encourages them to appreciate what we have accomplished thus far and encourages them to dream big dreams for their future.
What represent for you Apollo 11 ? Which memory(ies) have you of this event ?
It was a moment of immense excitement and joy and wonder.
My daughter had just celebrated her second birthday and I kept her from sleep to watch the TV images, and could feel the rest of the world watching along with us as well.
Although is was achieved through national competition, I think people around the world all felt a sense of pride in what we humans had been able to do.
I experienced the same thing last year as I joined a huge crowd of thousands of excited people collectively holding their breath as we awaited the news that the Curiosity rover had made its way safely to Martian surface.

What will be your most incredible space dream ?
I would love to be successful in detecting extraterrestrial intelligence and answering that old human question - to better calibrate our place in the cosmos.

Photos de Jill Tarter à Bruxelles pour la conférence 100 Year Starship
(Crédit : Stéphane Sebile / Space Quotes - Souvenirs d'espace)

(Ronke Olabisi, Mae Jemison et Jill Tarter)

2 commentaires:

  1. Pourquoi pas une traduction en francais ?

  2. A l'origine, je publiai les réponses de mes invités uniquement dans leur langue, car j'avais aussi beaucoup de lecteurs en langue anglaise. Mais bientôt, je mettrai les interview dans les deux langues ;-)