Budget cuts are putting a hold on SETI.
If ET is phoning home, we won't know about it. A key tool in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) has been shuttered due to budget cuts.
The Allen Telescope Array (ATA), a set of 42 radio telescopes near Hat Creek, California, has been searching for alien signals and simultaneously conducting astronomical research since it began operating in 2007.
Now budget cuts have forced the array to suspend operations, halting both kinds of observations.The array is a partnership between the SETI Institute, based in Mountainview, California, and the University of California, Berkeley. The SETI Institute paid for the array's construction using funds from Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and others, while UC Berkeley has been covering the array's $2.5 million yearly operating costs using grants from the National Science Foundation and the state of California. Both sources have now cut back on those grants.
"Today's rough economic and budgetary times have created a temporary problem for the operations of the ATA," SETI Institute CEO Tom Pierson told New Scientist.