The future wasn't looking bright for the SETI Institute, which announced the shutting off of its 42-telescope-strong array tasked with listening for alien life in the vastness of space. Who needs to peer into space, anyway? We'll know when we discover extraterrestrial life — y'know, when E.T. comes a-knockin' with his fancy space weapons.
In a move that's more than possible in this post-Kickstarter world, SETI's Allen Telescope Array (or ATA — the aforementioned 42 'scopes) has been stickered with a $200,000 price tag for its continued operation. Where's it going to come from? Well, SETI hopes it'll come from me and you.
While $200,000 is a daunting number, the scientific institute has already raised $25,000 in pursuit of its goal. That's from 468 donors as of this writing, which works out to an impressive $54 per "star," as SETI is calling its benefactors. You can learn how to donate and in what amounts by checking out SETI's donation site.
We know, we know: but what has SETI done for you lately? Well, according to institute director Jill Tarter, it's what it will do for you, thanks to all of the tools available in this modern age: "Thanks to NASA's Kepler Mission, for the first time in human history we can now direct the telescope's scans towards planet candidates in the habitable zone around their parent star. It is exactly the wrong time for the telescope to go dark. But given the outpouring of support already, I'm invigorated by the idea that we will be able to continue the work."