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Shrinking budgets force shutdown of alien search

Apr 26, 2011 2:45:00 PM - thestate.com
Strapped government budgets may be affecting more than life on Earth.

Astronomers at the SETI Institute in Northern California say a steep drop in state and federal funds has forced the shutdown of a key program to search for extraterrestrial life.

Dozens of radio dishes that make up the Allen Telescope Array in the mountains of far Northern California have scanned deep space since 2007 for alien signals.

But SETI chief executive Tom Pierson said in an email to donors last week that the University of California, Berkeley, has run out of money for day-to-day operations of the dishes.

The $50 million array was built by SETI and UC Berkeley with the help of a major donation from Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. Operating the dishes costs about $1.5 million annually.

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