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terça-feira, abril 26, 2011

Search for alien life put on hold

By Mark Milian, CNN
April 25, 2011 -- Updated 2355 GMT (0755 HKT) | Filed under: Innovation

The Allen Telescope Array is a field of dish-like scopes some 300 miles north of San Francisco

(CNN) -- Interstellar radio has lost one of its most avid and high-profile listeners.

A collection of sophisticated radio telescopes in California that scan the heavens for extraterrestrial signals has suspended operations because of lack of funding, a spokeswoman said Monday.

The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute operates the Allen Telescope Array, the field of dish-like scopes some 300 miles north of San Francisco. The telescopes are a joint effort of SETI and University of California-Berkeley's Radio Astronomy Lab and have been funded largely by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, who donated more than $25 million to the project.

A state budget crisis and reduced federal dollars have choked the project of funding, said Karen Randall, SETI's director of special projects. SETI put the Allen Telescope Array on hold a week ago -- a situation publicly revealed by Franck Marchis, a principal investigator for SETI who doesn't work on the affected project, on his blog.

SETI CEO Tom Pierson sent an April 22 letter to donors saying the telescope array had been put into "hibernation," Randall said. Pierson's letter stated in part, "Starting this week, the equipment is unavailable for normal observations and is being maintained in a safe state by a significantly reduced staff."

The Allen Telescope Array will resume operations by 2013, when SETI's new round of funding goes into effect, Randall said. The funding will cover the project until 2018, she said. In the meantime, SETI is searching for quick cash.

"Obviously, we want to be prepared for these kinds of things," Randall said of financial obstacles. "We are working on some other angles that have bubbled up that will basically not be so vulnerable to budget cycles."

Read more here/Leia mais aqui: CNN