The Deep Space Network is an array of antennas which collects radio signals from space. Those signals may be from stars or from our own spacecraft traveling in space.
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The search for life of any kind is different than the search for intelligent life somewhere in the universe. The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (called SETI for short) is an effort to distinguish signals of intelligent life from all the electromagnetic signals which bombard the Earth every day. SETI scientists are involved in a search of all the possible radio frequencies for a signal which resembles recognizable radio signals such as those from radio and television which we ourselves release into space. The signal of intelligent life may not be so complex however. Any signal which repeats in a pattern may represent the product of an intelligent form of life from somewhere. The premise of the film "Contact" was the detection of just such a signal from an intelligent species.
You may leave this tour and read more about radio signals from space by clicking this link to the stars.
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