As we reported in April, the SETI (Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence) Institute was experiencing budget cuts, so it was forced to shut down its spearhead to life in space, the Alien Telescope Array. Now fans of the institute, who obviously didn't want a crimp in their first-contact plans, have donated $200,000 for the cause.
If you haven't noticed, the economy has recently been having a spot of bother, resulting in budget cuts and limited private donations to every agency or group in need, including SETI. But SETI has one advantage in fundraising that many institutes do not: star power.
According to MSNBC:
Among the contributors are Jodie Foster, the actress who played a SETI researcher in the movie "Contact"; science-fiction writer Larry Niven, creator of the "Ringworld" series of novels; and Apollo 8 astronaut Bill Anders, who flew around the moon in 1968. "It is absolutely irresponsible of the human race not to be searching for evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence," Anders wrote in a note accompanying his contribution.
In all, more than 2,000 people who want a focused exploration of space donated to SETI.
SETI's chief executive officer, Tom Pierson, says that the institute will be restarting its science operations in September. (And wouldn't it suck if the aliens were trying to attract our attention right now?)
Of course, they're still accepting donations: SETI's operating costs, plus the costs of its science division, require $2.5 million a year. You can also help out SETI by using your computer to sift through the data. Visit setiQuest for more information.