SETI Shuts Down Alien Project

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E.T. can’t phone home as much anymore.

Due to lack of much needed funding, the SETI institute, a non profit organization that researches in proving the likelihood of life outside of Earth, has been forced to shut down their Allen Telescope Array.

According to, SETI, meaning Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence group, used these telescopes to catch radio signals and other contact from the far reaches of the universe.

Their goal has been to prove that life does exist deep within space. They specify in scientific research and outreaching to the public to educate them.

SETI is made up of three centers, the Carl Sagan Center for the Study of Life in the Universe, the Center for SETI Research, and the Center for Education and Public Outreach. The SETI Institute site states that the organization was founded in November 1984, and began its operations in February 1985. Currently it has employed over 150 educators, scientists and support staff. Some of it’s sponsors include NASA, Department of Energy, National Science Foundation, Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), US Geological Survey, International Astronomical Union, Universities Space Research Association (USRA), Argonne National Laboratory, Pacific Science Center, Paul G. Allen Foundation, Foundation for Microbiology, Sun Microsystems and more.

The $50 million SETI project, Allen Telescope Array (ATA), is a collection of radio telescopes that are simply used for listening for any signs of extraterrestrial communication.

According to Wired Science, the ATA is located in Northern California and its area of collecting is one hectare. SETI Institute is joined by the Radio Astronomy Laboratory (RAL) in a combined effort to create the project. It is funded by a variety of donors, including $25 million from Paul Allen, the co-founder of Microsoft.

ATA was supposed to be built in four phases with each phase increasing the amount of telescopes that would eventually reach to the amount of 350 dishes.

However, according to the Washington Post, the SETI Institute CEO, Tom Pierson, sent an email out last Friday, April 22, notifying them that due to a shortage of $5 million needed funding, the project is now forced in to hibernation. This week ATA, located at the Hat Creek Radio Observatory, located in the northern area of San Francisco, will be closing down its operations and the 42 operational dishes put away.

Only a small crew remains to keep it alive. Pierson states on the SETI Institute site that there are efforts being made to help save the project. One effort may partnering with the U.S. Air Force and using the telescopes’ services to track debris orbiting in space that threaten the safety of defense satellites.

Until the economy gets better and ATA gets funding, Spock will have to wait before he makes contact with Earth.

Photos from Andrew Mager and Brewbooks via Flickr


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