Paul Allen, the co-founder of software titan Microsoft, is ploughing a slice of his fortune into the search for life on other planets.
Mr Allen is donating $13.5m to the California-based Seti Institute.
The money will be used to create a radio telescope array comprising more than 200 dishes which will measure signals from space.
“It will expand our understanding of how the Universe was formed,” says Mr Allen, a keen fan of science fiction.
Space exploration has seen renewed interest recently with the Nasa Mars rovers and President George W Bush’s outline plans for an ambitious space initiative.