Please give preference to those most widely used in the field, if possible.

  • $\begingroup$ I don't know the answer to your question, but you could find out by sending an e-mail to [email protected]. My daughter is a programmer and says that this kind of thing could be done in any of several languages. As an aside, I do know what language JPL uses almost exclusively for it's Mars missions and others. They use "C". I guess this is the one most suited for sending machine (robotic) commands. $\endgroup$ Aug 11, 2016 at 15:07
  • $\begingroup$ @JackR.Woods JPL uses some FORTRAN as well. $\endgroup$
    – called2voyage
    Aug 16, 2016 at 20:55
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    $\begingroup$ The most commonly used programing language at JPL is IDL, not C or Fortran, however, when I worked there as an intern, I used both C and Fortran, but not IDL... go figure. Back on topic, my faculty advisor when I was a student at UCSC, had done some work with SETI, and he pointed me in the direction of both IDL and Python as being the most relevant languages used in the field today $\endgroup$
    – LaserYeti
    Aug 19, 2016 at 6:11
  • $\begingroup$ I was actually saying that JPL uses C almost exclusively for the Mars missions. This came directly from Jim Bell, the lead scientist on the next generation camera system for the 2020 Mars rover. Also, Justin Maki, an engineer at JPL was there at the talk. They may have been specifically talking about the language used for the programming of the rovers. $\endgroup$ Aug 22, 2016 at 4:26

1 Answer 1


A significant portion of SETI's work is done through a program known as SETI@home, which takes signals that have been received and processes them for responses, such as recurring patterns. Here is a page on how to download its source code. I grabbed the most recent nightly tarball and it turns out the program is coded in C++. I offer this as evidence that C++ is the most commonly used programming language used to process SETI's workload.


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