August 9, 2011

Search For Extraterrestrial Intelligence Back On

Over $200,000 in donations from fans have helped place SETI's search for alien life back on track.

The institute had previously put the 42-antenna Allen Telescope Array in Northern California on hold due to budget conflicts.

SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) said if it could raise $200,000 from the public by August it would be able to turn the array back on.

The institute spends $1.5 million annually to keep the array up and running. 

Karen Randall, director of special projects at the institute, said the group has been working on partnerships with commercial and scientific organizations for additional funding and "we're not going to shut down" again.

Randall said she was not sure when the telescopes would be back online.

"They were never designed to go into hibernation, so we have to evaluate what it takes to bring it out of hibernation," she said in a statement.

Over 2,200 people contributed to the public donations, including actress Jodie Foster.

The Allen Telescope Array is a joint project of the SETI Institute and the Radio Astronomy Lab of the University of California at Berkeley.  The university was suppose to help fund the operations of the observatory that houses the array, but state and federal budget cuts forced the university to cut all operations except the bare minimum required to safely maintain equipment at the site.

The institute was founded in 1984 and has received funding from NASA, the National Science Foundation and several other federal programs and private foundations.


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