In 1984, a non-profit organization called Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI)
was established by Thomas Pierson and Dr. Jill Tarter. It has received funding from members of the scientific community, including Carl Sagan, Gordon Moore, Paul Allen, Greg Papadopoulos and many others from around the world.
The institute’s primary focus is to discover some form of alien life in this vast universe, but it also conducts observations of extrasolar planets, the possibility of habitability in other parts of the Milky Way Galaxy and if Mars can carry life.
Due to recent budget cuts from the U.S. government, SETI was forced to shut down
its radio telescope after it ran out of funds. The Alien Telescope Array (ATA)
is used to locate alien signals, which have led to numerous close calls, but nothing that can be definitive proof of extraterrestrial contact.
Earlier this summer, SETI launched a campaign called SETIStars
in order to garner funds to revive its search. In 45 days, the organization successfully received more than $220,000 in donations from more than 2,500 supporters all over the world.
One of its donors was Academy-Award winning actress and star of the sci-fi motion picture “Contact,” Jodie Foster
The ATA will restart sometime in the middle of September.
Senior astronomer at the SETI Center, Seth Shostak, told the International Business Times
that even though Americans are staggering in these rough economic times, they are still altruistic and ponder the question: “Is there somebody out there as intelligent or more so than us?”
“There is something very quintessentially American about it,” said Shostak. “There's something in our culture about being willing to try long-shot but high-stakes experiments in the name of exploration.”
Will SETI find evidence of aliens in our lifetime?