SETI sets up $200,000 challenge to get insolvent telescopes back on line

SETI Institute wants to get its Allen Telescope Array (ATA) system out of hock

seti ata
The SETI Institute wants to get its Allen Telescope Array (ATA) system, out of hock and get it back in the radio astronomy business and has announced a community challenge to raise $200,000 by August 1 to get that job done.

The group has set up a public challenge, known as SETIstars to "galvanize community action with clearly defined fundraising goals as well as a place to engage with and recognize supporters and contributors to the SETI Institute - both financial and non-financial. We are starting with a simple site with a clear mandate: raise funds from the community to help bring the ATA back on line."

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"Bringing the ATA back online is a critical first step. However, sustaining operations is also of vital importance. SETIstars will be a rallying point for future community engagement and fundraising efforts," the group stated.  As of this post, 719 people have donated $37,126, according to the group's web site.

Getting the ATA system back up is important as NASA and others have been discovering planets in the habitable zones of distant stars the group states.  "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."

ATA was shut down in April.  In a letter to SETI supporters, the CEO the SETI Institute wrote "...The ATA has been placed into hibernation due to funding shortfalls for operations of the Hat Creek Radio Observatory (HCRO) where the ATA is located. As a long time participant in supporting our work, you know that the Array is a partnership between the SETI Institute and the Radio Astronomy Lab of the University of California, Berkeley (UCB). Consistent with the original partnership understandings, the SETI Institute raised the funds to construct the Array, while the operations of the Observatory have been the responsibility of UCB."

Follow Michael Cooney on Twitter: nwwlayer8  

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