Budget cuts have found a new victim – SETI, Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence . The cuts have forced astronomers operating the 42 telescopes, Allen Telescope Array, at UC Berkeley’s famed Hat Creek Radio Astronomy Laboratory to suspend their search for signals from extraterrestrial civilizations.
SETI Institute astronomer Jill Tarter said Tuesday the entire laboratory in the remote Lassen National Forest near Redding is being “placed in hibernation” because $2.5 million in funds from the National Science Foundation and from UC’s astronomy budget have dried up.
Other money expected from the Air Force for tracking orbital debris and satellites in space is awaiting congressional budget action, said Jack Welch, an astronomy professor at the UC Berkeley graduate school and a former director of the radio astronomy laboratory.Source: www.sfgate.com
(Courtesy: Mercury News)
The program needs federal or state money to survive as telescopes itself cost $1.5 million a year and an extra $1 million for SETI search.
Check the letter to significant stakeholders from Tom Pierson, CEO, SETI Institute.
We are continuing discussions with the USAF and remain hopeful that this effort will help provide future operating funds. At the same time, we must strive to find other sources of funding to supplement operations costs and, very importantly, to support SETI science observations. We are preparing a coordinated campaign to ask for help, and you will be hearing more from us about this. The bottom line is that it takes approximately $1.5M/year to operate the ATA, and at least an additional $1M/year to cover the cost of our SETI science efforts. Thus, right now, we are trying to raise $5M to cover a two-year search of the Kepler Worlds by Jill Tarter and her team. Assuming funding can be acquired, we plan to spend the next two years listening to the 1,235 exoplanet candidates that the Kepler mission announced in February. This fabulous opportunity represents a fundamental shift to be able to point our instruments at known planetary systems, rather than at stars that might or might not host planets.Source: archive.seti.org
(Courtesy: Mercury News)
Funding problems are not new for SETI.
But funding for SETI has long been a headache for E.T.-seekers. NASA bankrolled some early projects, but in 1994, Sen. Richard Bryan of Nevada convinced Congress that it wasn’t worth the cost, calling it the “Great Martian Chase” and complaining that not a single flying saucer had applied for FAA approval.
However, successful private funding came from donors such as Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, allowing SETI to raise $50 million to build the 42 dishes.
Plans called for construction of 350 individual radio antennas, all working in concert. But what’s lacking now is funding to support the day-to-day costs of running the dishes.
This is the responsibility of UC Berkeley’s Radio Astronomy Laboratory, but one of the university’s major funders, the National Science Foundation, supplied only one-tenth its previous support. Meanwhile, the state of California has also cut funding.Source: www.mercurynews.com
You can help too by donating for the program..
Public help is needed – Donate now – Help return the ATA to operations and support the exciting SETI exploration of the Kepler planets over the next two years. You can read about our Kepler Worlds search and donate to the effort here.Source: www.seti.org
Are we going to stop the search? Let us hope that a combination of donors, crowd funding and government funding keeps the effort alive.