The Oscar-winning actress, producer and director has helped The Search for Extraterrestrial-Intelligence with fundraising to keep an array of telescopes searching for life outside of Earth. The SETI telescopes operate 24 hours a day but the economic downturn has affected them as well, and their funding was running low, so a fundraiser was instrumental in keeping them in operation. Ms. Foster said, “The Allen Telescope Array could turn science fiction into science fact but only if it is actively searching the skies.” (Source IBtimes.com)
Currently the array is made up of forty-two telescopes, but eventually it might be expanded to 350 units, all receiving radio waves from space. This is essentially an enormous space listening research project. It is named the Allen Array due to funding from Paul Allen, a co-founder of Microsoft. In April of 2011 it had been put into hibernation due to funding shortages. The extra funding allowed them to continue collecting information from space. Operating the array costs about one million dollars annually, and one of the other funders, UC-Berkeley can’t continue supporting the research because of its own budget issues.
“I’m a SETIStar because, just like Ellie Arroway, the ATA is “good to go” and we need to return it to the task of searching newly discovered planetary worlds for signs of extraterrestrial intelligence, said Foster. (Source: The Atlantic)
Foster played a role in a feature film called Contact, about humans relating to alien life forms. The screenplay was based on a novel by Carl Sagan, who also supported SETI.
SETI was incorporated in 1984. Since then it has received financial support from Carl Sagan, Gordon Moore, Paul Allen, David Packard and others. Government funding isn’t used for the SETI searches, though related research conducted with SETI has received such support. The headquarters are in Mountain View, California.
Image Credit: Colby Gutierrez-Kraybill