SETI researchers at U.C. Berkeley are not letting funding issues stand in the way of the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. A few weeks ago they announced that budget cuts would shut down research conducted in conjunction with the SETI Institute on the Allen Telescope Array. Just last week the Berkeley scientists spoke up again, this time trumpeting the start of a new project focusing on possible planets discovered in the NASA Kepler Mission.
They’re using the massive Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia to pull data from the starfield that Kepler has explored to find 1,253 possible planets in recent months. In particular, they are looking for signals in the star systems of the planets that have shown the most Earth-like characteristics. It will only be 24 hours worth of data, five minutes per likely candidate, but that will take plenty of time to sort through. We can all be involved through the SETI@home project, which uses our computer downtime to help sift through the data looking for that standout signal that would bear closer attention. Of course, Green Bank is where the SETI effort began as Project Ozma 51 years ago.
This doesn’t mean the funding issues are no longer a problem, just that they have found a new project while the SETI Institute works on raising funds to restart the Allen Telescope Array. You can help in that effort as well. Visit the SETI Institute home page for details on donating to the cause.