When the SETI Institute put the Allen Telescope Array (ATA) into hibernation a couple of months back due to lack of funds for the project, we were devastated. The shutdown could not have come at a worse moment.
In just the past year, scientists have discovered planets in the habitable zones of distant stars — worlds that may be similar to ours. And every month we are discovering more of these planets, thanks to new observation techniques and incredible instruments like the Kepler Space Telescope. It’s the first time in history we know where we might look for intelligent life beyond earth. Instead of sweeping the entire sky, we can point our instruments at specific regions of space relatively more likely to contain radio signals created by other intelligent civilizations.
It’s a pivotal point in our search; it could even turn out to be a pivotal point in human history.
And yet we are stuck.
In April, the SETI Institute had to put the ATA in hibernation mode because the program ran out of money. The ATA is the only instrument available full time for listening for radio signals from possible intelligent sources. Without it, we may never find the answers to our questions.
In the wake of the shutdown, the outpouring of support from all corners of the globe was staggering. It is clear that SETI Institute’s mission resonates with people the world over — that the questions we seek to answer are universal. Without even asking for it, the public responded almost immediately with offers to help, and donations began flowing in. But until now we haven’t had a way to focus this interest and show of support, nor to allow the public at large to specifically support the ATA.
That’s why we created SETIstars. It’s a site to focus the activity of SETI enthusiasts who want to help support our search for extraterrestrial life. As a first step, we are seeking $200,000 in contributions by August to get the ATA back online. And if our predictions about your enthusiasm are right, we’ll be rolling out additional challenges soon — including a couple of firsts for organizations like SETI Institute.
We humbly thank you for your contributions, and look forward to moving this incredible endeavor forward again with your help. Stay tuned..