SETI hunt for alien life put on hold

Budget squeeze forces extraterrestrial-hunting telescope array into hibernation

The US federal and state budget squeeze is affecting life here on Earth - and beyond.

Astronomers at the SETI Institute in Northern California announced that it has been forced to stop operations at the Allen Telescope Array, a field of more than 40 radio dishes that scan the skies for communications from aliens .

The array began scanning for signals from extraterrestrial life in October of 2007, and SETI planned to eventually expand the project to 350 dishes, covering 90 square miles. But financial constraints are forcing the institute's astronomers to put the array into hibernation.

"Effective this week, the [Allen Telescope Array] has been placed into hibernation due to funding shortfalls for operations of the Hat Creek Radio Observatory where the [array] is located," wrote SETI Institute CEO Tom Pierson, in an open letter sent late last week to project donors. "Unfortunately, today's government budgetary environment is very difficult, and new solutions must be found."

Pierson did note in the letter that the institute is negotiating a potential partnership with U.S. Air Force to use the dish array to help track space debris, which might give the project the funding it needs to some day resume the search for alien life.

"This effort is ongoing and showing much promise, but near term funding has been delayed due to the same, highly publicized large scale federal budget problems we all read about in the news," wrote Pierson.

Located in Hat Creek, Calif. about 300 miles northeast of San Francisco, the dish array is operated by the SETI Institute, which is a group focused on finding extraterrestrial life, and the University of California at Berkeley.

The SETI Institute raised the funds needed to construct the Array, while funding the observatory's operations has been the responsibility of the state university.

The construction of the array was largely funded by the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation . Allen is a co-founder of Microsoft.

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin , or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her e-mail address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags hardwareU.S. Air ForceNASAIndustrieshardware systemsgovernmentGovernment/Industries

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Sharon Gaudin

Computerworld (US)
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Breitling Superocean Heritage Chronographe 44

Learn more >

SanDisk MicroSDXC™ for Nintendo® Switch™

Learn more >

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Panasonic 4K UHD Blu-Ray Player and Full HD Recorder with Netflix - UBT1GL-K

Learn more >

Stocking Stuffer

Razer DeathAdder Expert Ergonomic Gaming Mouse

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?