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Budget cuts shut down alien-hunting telescopes
A collection of radio telescopes dedicated solely to listening out for extraterrestrial life has been put into "hibernation" because of a lack of funds.
The Allen Telescope Array in northern California has a combined collecting area of one hectare, and was funded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. However, just three and a half years after the array began its hunt for extraterrestrial life, the money has dried up.
ATA is a joint project between the Seti Institute -- a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to establishing the possibility of life beyond Earth, or astrobiology -- and the Radio Astronomy Laboratory at the University of California, in Berkeley. Like Seti, ATA is funded by a mixture of private foundations and organisations such as Nasa and the US Geological Survey.
The ATA is located in the Hat Creek Radio Observatory, so it also gets cash from the National Science Foundation and the state of California, but both of these monetary sources have shrunk considerably over recent months. Annual costs for ATA operations are $1.5 million and the Seti campaign at the array are another $1 million.
According to Scientific American, on 22 April ATA's donors recieved a letter from Seti's CEO, Tom Pierson, stating: "Starting this week, the equipment is unavailable for normal observations and is being maintained in a safe state by a significantly reduced staff."
Amateur astronomer Sarah Wiehe of Palo Alto said, "just knowing SETI is there was significant for us. This is a setback."
"If we miss a distant signal," she added, "it would be a terrible loss."
There is a light at the end of the tunnel, however. Since 2009, writes Marchis, the Air Force has been looking at using the Allen Telescope Array to keep track of orbital debris whizzing around the planet.
The future of the ATA may depend of the US Air Force program. Unfortunately, because of the recent federal finance turmoil, no clear decision has been taken with enough time to keep the observatory running. Since April 15, the observatory is in hibernation. All the equipments have been taken care of to make sure that they do not deteriorate over time.
Hope ET is patient with us.
Originally posted by gortex
Hate to do this Isaac but....... already posted .