Ever wonder if aliens do exist and if the truth is out there? Well thanks to the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute (SETI), we can now search for extraterrestrial life due to hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations from fans and celebrities.
In April, SETI was shut down because of a state budget crisis and limited federal dollars, but SETI and its supporters didn’t let the lack of funds stop their mission in searching for extraterrestrials. A website for donations, SETIstars, was set up and by Aug. 3 it received $200,000. An additional, $4,000 has also been donated.
In addition to fans helping out SETI, science fiction writer Larry Nevin, Apollo 8 astronaut Bill Anders and actress Jodie Foster, who just happen to play a SETI researcher in the movie Contact, all made considerable donations.
“It is absolutely irresponsible of the human race not to be searching for evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence,” Anders expressed in a message with his donation.
Located in Mountain View, Calif., 290 miles northeast of San Francisco, SETI uses Allen Telescope Array searching the sky for aliens. They have the use of 42 telescopes and operate 24 hours per day. The search for E.T. began in 2001 when the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation contributed $11.5 million. In 2004, construction of the telescopes began thanks to a $13.5 million donation from Microsoft Co-Founder Paul Allen, but didn’t become functional until 2007.
Even with all of this help, SETI isn’t out the woods. SETI CEO Tom Pierson explained the institute is looking into cutting operating and science operations costs, which rounds out to about $2.5 million annually. Also, a new operating model is a must, since the University of California at Berkeley is no longer providing funding.
“We’re not completely out of the woods yet, but everybody’s smiling here,” said Pierson. “We think we’re going to come out of hibernation and be solid for the next five months or so, and during those five months we’re going to take care of calendar year 2013 and put that under our belt.”
SETI researchers are thrilled with the help they’ve received and to have the Allen Telescope Array up and running. Hopefully all of the hard work will pay off and they will have an out of this world experience!