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SETI, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence suffered a big blow in April of this year when the primary alien search engine –the Allen Telescope Array (ATA) in northern California — was put into “hibernation” due to lack of funds. But now you can help get the ATA back online through a crowdsourcing effort called SETIstars. Similar to fundraising efforts like KickStarter, SETIstars is working to raise enough money to bring the telescope array online again and provide operating costs for at least one year. The goal is to raise $200,000.
As of this writing, nearly $30,000 has been raised already.
While the ATA is not the only radio telescope that can be used for SETI searches, it was the observatory that was primarily used for that task. The funding crisis occured when state and the National Science Foundation contributions were significantly cut.
SETIstars is an initiative by the SETI Institute to rally support from the community to help fund the SETI Institute’s operations and that of the Allen Telescope Array. SETIstars has clearly defined fundraising goals, and will 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,” says the SETIstars website. “But this is just the beginning…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.”
Here’s your chance to allow SETI scientists to start listening for signals from space again, especially in the region in space where Kepler has found a boatload of exoplanets. Your donations are tax free (in the US) since SETI is a nonprofit institution. International donors should contact their government for information on tax deductions for charitable gifts to U.S. based charities.