About 350 telescopes search for extraterrestial life at the Allen Telescope Array  in Northern California. Kathleen Franklin/Flick
About 350 telescopes search for extraterrestial life at the Allen Telescope Array in Northern California. Kathleen Franklin/Flick

It’s on… the search for other life in the universe. After being turned off for lack of funds, the Los Angeles Times reports that a fundraising effort has turned up the $200,000 needed to help get the array up and running again.

This week the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute announced that it had raised more than $200,000 from a crowd-sourced fundraising effort that launched this spring. The money, which came from just over 2,000 people who want to keep the search for alien life alive, will help the institute put its Allen Telescope Array back online.

“We are so grateful to our donors,” said Tom Pierson, who co-founded the SETI Institute with Jill Tarter (the inspiration for Jodie Foster’s character in “Contact”). “We believe we will be back on the air in September.”

On the Setistars website, where the call for donations was originally placed, large red type proclaims: “Thank You for Your Support to Resume the Search!”

The Allen Telescope Array, or ATA, is a series of 42 linked radio-telescope dishes funded by a $30-million gift from Microsoft Corp. co-founder Paul Allen. Built at the Hat Creek Radio Observatory in a valley near Mt. Shasta, it is the first group of radio telescopes built from the ground up with the intention of monitoring the universe full-time for radio waves that would indicate there is life on other planets.

KQED on-line was all over this story when the satellites went off-line in April. Lisa Pickoff-White had a post that goes into great detail about why is a particularly good time to continue the search, thanks to new technologies. And Amy Standen of Quest spent time with Jill Tarter. In her piece, Standen asked the question “Is it time for SETI to stop looking?”

Looks like now they shouldn’t have to.

SETI Continues to Boldly Go Where No Other Telescopes Have Scanned Before 10 August,2011Rachel Dornhelm

  • What’s with the references to “satellites?” Satellites have nothing to do with this beyond a casual resemblance to so-called satellite dishes.

    • Lisa Pickoff-White

      Thanks Mark!

      ~ KQED Interactive Producer


Rachel Dornhelm

Rachel Dornhelm has worked as a reporter, editor and producer in public radio for the last twelve years. She got her start in New York City at WNYC and went on to work with the national business program Marketplace, WBUR’s “On Point” and KQED News in San Francisco. Her work has been honored by the LA Press Club and the SF-Peninsula Press Club.

Rachel has a BA with honors in anthropology from Rice University and did graduate work at NYU.

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