Donors help re-open mothballed telescopes searching for ET
Published: 16th Aug 2011 18:46:36
Telescopes looking for extra terrestrial intelligence should re-open within weeks after donors replaced income lost in public funding cuts.
The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute, had to shut the $30m (£18.3m) Allen Telescope Array in April.
Donors, including actress Jodie Foster, raised more than $200,000 (£122,000).
The 42 radio telescopes, in northern California, search space for potential signals from alien life forms.
Ms Foster was one of more than 2,400 people who contributed to the fund to save the Allen Telescope Array. She played the lead role of an astronomer looking for evidence of aliens in the 1997 film, Contact.
In a statement on the fund-raising website she explained her support: "The Allen Telescope Array could turn science fiction into science fact but only if it is actively searching the skies."
Another donor was the Apollo 8 astronaut, Bill Anders.
The SETI Institute says the fund should be enough to keep the telescopes operating until the end of the year, though the plan is still dependent on the institute receiving money from the US Air Force to track space debris that could damage satellites.
SETI Institute Astronomer Seth Shostak told BBC News, the deal with the Air Force is not yet done but he said he is fairly confident it will go through. Even then the money will need to be ratified by Congress and so there may be a delay. He hopes the array will re-open in September or October.
Thomas Pierson, SETI chief executive, agreed that a deal with the Air Force, combined with the donations, should allow the array to start listening for space chatter once again.
He said: "For those who are interested in understanding whether intelligent life might be out there elsewhere in our galaxy, the Allen Telescope Array and our SETI team doing the research are the best bet."
The array began operating in 2007 and is named after its major benefactor, Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft. It consists of 42 dish-shaped antennas which work as a single radio telescope.
It is part of the Hat Creek Radio Observatory, run by the University of California, Berkeley. Originally the array was a joint project between SETI Institute and the UC Berkeley Astronomy Laboratory but Berkeley had to pull out because of the loss of National Science Foundation grants and state budget cuts.
SETI is hoping to raise more money to contribute to the $2.5m (£1.5m) annual operating and staffing costs of the telescopes and keep them going beyond the end of this year. Ultimately the plan is to use the array to observe planets outside our own Solar System.
Mr Shostak said: "People still think this very fundamental question - is there somebody out there as intelligent or more so than us - is important and worth doing."
The array also contributes to research into black holes, pusars and magnetic fields in the Milky Way.
Harvard CitationBBC News, 2011. Donors help re-open mothballed telescopes searching for ET. [Online] (Updated 16 Aug 2011)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news.php/178292-Donors-help-re-open-mothballed-telescopes-searching-for-ET [Accessed 17th June 2013]
At 11:52:52 in EnglandMoors Murderer Ian Brady has appeared in public for the first time in decades at a hearing considering his sanity as part of a bid to take h...
At 11:52:32 in EnglandStuart Hall abused his position as a BBC broadcaster to sexually abuse under age girls, Preston Crown Court heard....
At 11:50:59 in ScotlandCCTV images of two men police want to trace in connection with a violent assault in Aberdeen city centre have been released....
At 11:42:20 in ScotlandA man has been detained by police after a suspicious death in Blairgowrie in Perthshire....
At 11:38:57 in EnglandPaddy Power has won its appeal over an east London council's refusal to allow it to open a betting shop in the area....
At 11:30:42 in ScotlandNHS Grampian is trying to improve staffing levels at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary after concerns were raised by staff....
At 11:27:39 in HeadlinesA major international summit on missing people is hoping to tackle exploitation and trafficking. In the UK, a disproportionate number of mis...
At 11:15:15 in EnglandA birthday celebration trip came to a shuddering halt in the skies above a theme park - leaving a group of girls trapped on a ride for sever...
At 11:13:05 in EntertainmentGeorge Lucas has won his first Emmy award for his animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars. ...
At 11:10:20 in TechnologyGoogle has announced a plan to do more to tackle online images of child sexual abuse....
News In Other Categories
An investigation is under way after the bodies of a 27-year-old woman and her eight-year-old daughter were found at a house in Killorglin, C...
George Lucas has won his first Emmy award for his animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars. ...
A £50m project to attract world-class scientists and their teams to Wales has made its first appointment. ...
Patients are being asked for their views on a radical overhaul of care standards for NHS hospitals in England....
Stuart Hall abused his position as a BBC broadcaster to sexually abuse under age girls, Preston Crown Court heard....
Google has announced a plan to do more to tackle online images of child sexual abuse....