A very important program to my mind, the SETI Institute has been facing hardships recently in getting the funding needed to keep their eyes on the sky looking for signs of intelligence out there in the universe. The Alan Telescope Array (ATA) has been dark since April due to budget cuts to partner organizations.
The ATA can be used for more than just searching for our cosmic neighbors, like any radio telescope it can and has be used to observe parts of our galaxy, other galaxies as well as other radio sources such as gamma ray bursts. The USAF Space Command has been evaluating the ATA to augment their resources for tracking orbital objects, a vital operation for safe and successful working in space.
Thanks to a fundraising campaign SETIStars, the needed $200,000 to restart the array have been raised. The program can always use additional support and is still taking donations. Join the thousands who have contributed including Actress Jodi Foster, SciFi Author Larry Niven and Apollo Astronaut Bill Anders.
The SETI Institute has many wonderful programs they work on including one of my regularly listened to podcasts Big Picture Science (formerly “Are We Alone?”) and the upcoming citizen science project SETIQuest to examine the data coming off the ATA.
If you believe they are out there or not, it really can’t be argued that the Institute is doing good science and needs to stay in operation.