SETI has put the stretch of extra-terrestrial finding radio telescopes known as Allen Telescope Array on hold due to a budget shortfall in California and lack of federal funding.
Previously, Microsoft genius Paul Allen was funding the project after donating $25 million, but now the money has run out and operations will cease until the next round of funding goes into effect around 2013.
The organization needs $5 million dollars to continue the search for alien life and it is not clear whether Allen will make another donation to keep everything running.
At SETI, 42 huge radio satellite dishes in California’s rural Cascade Mountains are pointed at different areas of the heavens 24/7 to detect faint radio signals that could indicate alien contact. Computers study the data to look for “unusual” signals.
The 1997 movie Contact starring Jodie Foster who played current director of SETI Jill Tarter is famous for spotlighting SETI.
Tarter wrote in commentary on CNN, “At SETI, our current mission isn’t to broadcast, but rather to listen to the universe and see what else might be out there…If signals are detected, everyone on the planet should have a voice in deciding how to respond.”
NASA faces the same type of funding cutbacks that SETI does, and SETI will have to lay off four people who help operate the giant radio telescopes.
Donations can be made here to support SETI.