As you know, back in April, they ran out of funds and had to put the ATA in hibernation. They did so at the exact worst moment possible, just as we're discovering dozens of planets in the habitable zones around their respective stars by the month. For the first time in its existence, SETI knows exactly where to point its telescopes — if it had the money.
I have always been a huge astronomy geek and am a big believer in SETI. A bunch of us are helping them launch a site called SETIstars.org today to help SETI get private donations from the public.
A copy of the site relaunch announcement for setistars.org follows, below.
Today The SETI Institute announces the launch of SETIstars.org, a new initiative to bring the Allen Telescope Array (ATA) back online. The array comprises 42 telescopes in Northern California that scan for radio signals from outer space, contributing greatly to one of the most profound enterprises in human history: the search for life elsewhere in the universe.
Earlier this year, a lack of funds curtailed this search, forcing the ATA into hibernation. But public outcry over the shutdown has been enormous, surprising even longtime SETI Institute staff members, who remain optimistic about future prospects.
"We are very excited to be launching SETIstars.org today," said Jill Tarter, Director of The SETI Institute's Center for SETI Research, and winner of the 2009 TED Prize. "By putting this site online, we are taking the first step toward allowing the general public to take a more personal stake in the future of one of the most important scientific endeavors in the history of humankind."
Visitors to the website may donate directly, to support a $200,000 challenge that will bring the ATA out of hibernation. In addition to donating, visitors can learn more about the ATA and the SETIstars project.
"The launch of SETIstars could not come at a more crucial time," said Tarter. "Thanks to NASA's Kepler Mission, for the first time in human history we can now direct the telescope's scans towards planet candidates in the habitable zone around their parent star. It is exactly the wrong time for the telescope to go dark. But given the outpouring of support already, I'm invigorated by the idea that we will be able to continue the work."
SETI Institute research seeks answers to questions like "Are we alone?" and "How long can a species survive their own technology?"
Allen Telescope Array images courtesy SETI