A new radio telescope array has been developed by the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute and the University of California at Berkeley that will shed some cosmic noise, and give scientists a better view of one million stars scattered throughout the universe.

A new radio telescope array has been developed by the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute and the University of California at Berkeley that will shed some cosmic noise, and give scientists a better view of one million stars scattered throughout the universe.



Named after the principle initial donor of the project, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, the Allen Telescope Array (ATA) consists of 350 20-foot antennas and will allow SETI scientists and radio astronomers to study stars twenty-four hours a day across multiple channels.



This new array — which gathers smaller telescopes in large bunches — will allow scientists to study more stars at one time than was previously possible with larger telescopes that focused on one, narrow region of space at any given time.



The Allen Foundation has already laid out $11.5 million, with the promise of another $13.5 million in the future. While that covers less than half of the $52 million price tag, the project is still under way. There are currently 32 antennas running in the Hat Creek region of Northern California and SETI hopes to have construction of the total array finished by 2007.



“It gives us access to the sky to search deeper for fainter levels and broader types of signals,” says SETI director Jill Tarter. “We’ll be looking at more frequency with more sensitivity and sophistication.”



The ATA’s development comes on the heels of the news that NASA’s most well-known telescope, Hubble, will be brought down in the near future due to budget constraints and resource reallocations that have forced the space agency to examine where it should spend its money.



That has turned attention back to earth-bound telescopes. Although SETI has only been around since1984, scientists have been using radio telescopes to learn more about the heavens since the 1940s.



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