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Jan 03 2012 - The Search for Extra Terrestrial intelligence (SETI) is back on track after funding from the U.S. Air Force Space Command. SETI plans to check out the new habitable exoplanets recently discovered by NASA’s Kepler space telescope to determine if they might be a home to an alien civilization. “This is a superb opportunity for SETI observations,” said Jill Tarter, the Director of the Center for SETI Research, in a statement issued yesterday.
“For the first time, we can point our telescopes at stars, and know that those stars actually host planetary systems – including at least one that begins to approximate an Earth analog in the habitable zone around its host star. That’s the type of world that might be home to a civilization capable of building radio transmitters.”
The U.S. Air Force Space Command helped fund SETI because it said it is interested in using the organization’s detection instruments for “space situational awareness.” NASA announced the discovery its Kepler spacecraft has made of many exoplanets orbiting other stars. It found one planet, known as Kepler-22b, that it described as Earth’s “twin”.
Kepler-22b orbits a Sun-like G type star about 600 light years away at a distance that could allow for an environment to contain liquid water. SETI said that work at the Alien Telescope Array (ATA) has been made possible thanks to the interest and generosity of the public and the U.S. Air Force. The Air Force said SETI’s ATA could be handy in picking up transmissions from spacecraft, which could help existing military Space Surveillance Network keep an eye on where they are. The ATA is a set of 42 radio dishes located about 300 miles northeast of San Francisco.