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SETI to get back online thanks to donations

by Jorge Hernandez on August 12, 2011

After being shut down since April, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) is back up. MSNBC reports that thanks to a large outpouring of public support, the program will go back online in September, starting the search for life outside of earth once more.

At the crux of SETI's search is the Allen Telescope Array (ATA), which is a radio interferometer used to making astronomical observations in an effort to find life. It had been operational since October 2007, but was shut down in April due to lack of funds – until now.

Perhaps the biggest reason for why the ATA has gotten back online is because of the SETIStars program, which solicited any size donations from supporters of the search. It worked, and quickly, as the news source reports that it raised $207,000 in just three days.

Among the most well-known contributors is actress Jodie Foster, who famously portrayed SETI scientist Ellie Arroway in the 1997 movie Contact. She said that the possibility of finding intelligent life outside of the Earth is too important to let die.

"The Allen Telescope Array could turn science fiction into science fact, but only if it is actively searching the skies." Foster said in a statement on the SETIStars website. "I support the effort to bring the array out of hibernation."

Still, the long-term health of the ATA program is up in the air. The news source reports that the institutes's executive Tom Pierson says that for it to be successful for a lengthy period of time, the program would likely need a mix of both funding and continued donations from supporters.

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