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SETI halts search for alien life
Sat, 30 Apr 2011 17:33:21 GMT
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Radio telescopes of the Allen Telescope Array (ATA) in Hat Creek, California
The Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) has called off its monitoring system for extra-terrestrial communication due to budget cuts.

The Allen Telescope Array (ATA) has been shelved and funding for the observatory, which hosts the ATA, has been cut to one-tenth its former level, Reuters reported.

The set of 42 radio telescopes in northern California were shut down on April 15.

"Effective this week, the ATA has been placed in hibernation due to funding shortfalls for operations of the Hat Creek Radio Observatory where the ATA is located," SETI chief executive Tom Pierson said in a statement.

"Hibernation means that, starting this week, the equipment is unavailable for normal observations and is being maintained in a safe state by a significantly reduced staff."

Established in 1984, SETI uses scientific methods to search for electromagnetic transmissions from intelligent extraterrestrial creatures.

The United States government contributed to early SETI projects, but recent work has been primarily funded by private sources such as Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, the nonprofit research organization of SETI, the National Science Foundation and the University of California, Berkeley.

According to Pierson, it costs about USD 1.5 million per year to operate the ATA, and an additional USD 1 million per year to fund associated SETI science efforts such as using it to scan for signals coming from the 1,235 potential alien planets discovered to date by NASA's Kepler space observatory, Christian Science Monitor reported.

The ATA network is located at the Hat Creek Radio Observatory about 482 kilometers north of San Francisco, California.

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