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April 28, 2011

Search for extraterrestrial life put on hold

photograph of the Allen Large Array telescopes
I was sad to learn that budget problems has brought to a (hopefully temporary) end to the search for extra-terrestrial life. For more than two years the SETI Institute has used an array of radio telescopes in California to signals from distant stars that may be generated by some alien form of intelligent life.

Funding for the day to day operation of the telescopes comes...or came... from the University of California via grants from the National Science Foundation and the state of California. But now those grants have been slashed to a tiny fraction of the US$2.5 million dollars needed to run the array each year. As a result, UC has had no choice but to shut down operations.

While this is obviously a big setback for SETI, they're not giving up. They are actively looking for alternative sources of funding (perhaps funding from the Air Force in exchange for using the telescope array to also track space junk, perhaps funding from NASA to use the array in investigate exo-planets recently discovered by the Kepler space telescope). If you have an extra few million dollars, they'd love to talk with you!

Here's an article on the shutdown from New Scientist.

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Posted by Chris Spurgeon at April 28, 2011 10:02 PM