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Search for Aliens Put on Hold

The Allen Telescope Array, a set of 42 radio telescopes that has been searching for alien signals and conducting astronomical research since 2007, has been shut down due to budget cuts. 

What’s the Latest Development?

“The Allen Telescope Array is a partnership between the S.E.T.I. Institute, based in Mountainview, California, and the University of California, Berkeley. The S.E.T.I. Institute paid for the array’s construction using funds from Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and others, while U.C. Berkeley has been covering the array’s $2.5 million yearly operating costs using grants from the National Science Foundation and the state of California. Both sources have now cut back on those grants. ‘Today’s rough economic and budgetary times have created a temporary problem for the operations of the A.T.A.,’ SETI Institute CEO Tom Pierson toldNew Scientist.”

What’s the Big Idea?

The search for alien life has been postponed but supporters of the Allen Telescope Array, a series of radio telescopes used by S.E.T.I. to search for alien radio signals, are making plans to bring the array back to life. “[S.E.T.I.] has been seeking funding from the U.S. Air Force, since array observations could help track space debris, which the Air Force monitors. … The Institute is also making a new appeal for donations. It hopes to secure $5 million for a two-year campaign focusing on the planet candidates recently detected by NASA’s Kepler space telescope.”

The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence is again combing space for radio signals broadcast by other intelligent life. To overcome its budget problems, it will share telescopes with the Air Force.

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