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Jill Tarter, SETI Institute astronomer, retires from job looking for aliens

Tarter was the inspiration for Ellie Arroway, the alien-hunting character played by Jodie Foster in the movie 'Contact.'
Contact film 2012 05 22Enlarge
Jodie Foster as Ellie Arroway in 'Contact,' a film based on the best-seller by Carl Sagan. (Getty Images)

Astronomer Jill Tarter, the inspiration for Ellie Arroway, the alien-seeking character played by Jodie Foster in the movie "Contact," is stepping down from her job as the director of the Center for SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Research at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, Calif., Space.com reported.

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