New eye to search for E.T.
The search for intelligent life on other planets got a boost Tuesday as officials for the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute unveiled plans for a massive new telescope.
The Allen Telescope Array - named for Microsoft Corp. co-founder Paul Allen, who put up $11.5 million for the project - will be constructed from between 500 and 1,000 small, mass-produced dishes resembling those used for home-satellite television reception. The dishes, arrayed together in a field, will be electronically linked to form one picture of the stars, and will be able to look at up to a dozen star systems simultaneously.
It should also prove useful for traditional research in radio astronomy, in looking more closely at interstellar chemistry, the structure of galactic magnetic fields, and the physics of rotating neutron stars. The telescope, jointly manned by SETI and the University of California at Berkeley, will be operational in 2005.
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