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We will analyze the atmospheres of these distant worlds, looking for carbon dioxide, water and ozone. The substantial presence of all three gasses would suggest that life is present.
Such a discovery would at last provide convincing evidence that we are not alone.
Because of its ability to study many areas on the sky at once, with more channels and for 24 hours a day, the Allen Telescope Array will permit an expansion from Project Phoenix's stellar reconnaissance of 1,000 stars to 100 thousand or even 1 million nearby stars.
The fundamental idea behind the Allen Telescope Array was hatched during a series of workshops held in 1997 - 1999 in which a group of scientists, engineers, and technologists considered how best to pursue SETI in the coming two decades (the SETI Science and Technology Workshops). The scheme they favored was to fashion the telescope as an array of commercial satellite dishes. Because of the enormous market for these backyard metal mushrooms, they are surprisingly inexpensive when purchased in quantity. The Allen Telescope Array will consist of 350 antennas of 6.1 meter diameter each, resulting in an instrument with a collecting area exceeding that of a 100 m telescope.