Astronomers seek funds for extra-terrestrial research

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The U.S. National Radio Astronomy Observatory says the initiative needs government support

(Photo by NASA via Getty Images)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The director of the U.S. National Radio Astronomy Observatory has called for more government support in the effort to research intelligent life elsewhere in the universe.

Dr. Anthony Beasley spoke at the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Seattle Friday and emphasized that the field should no longer be shunned by those who fund government research, according to the BBC.

“We are now set for the most comprehensive all-sky survey [for extra-terrestrial intelligence] that has even been accomplished,” said Beasley. He added that it was now time for the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence (Seti) to “come in from the cold and be properly integrated to all other areas of astronomy.”

The push from Beasley coincided with New Mexico’s Very Large Array (VLA) observatory’s announcement that it would be joining the effort to detect signs of intelligent life in other worlds. The VLA is a multi-antenna observatory and home to one of the best-equipped telescopes in the world, according to the BBC. Researchers said VLA’s participation would increase the chances of finding intelligent life by “10- or even 100-fold.”

“We would like to see Seti transformed from a small cabal of scientists and engineers in California–isolated from academia–to one that is as much an integral part of astronomy and astrophysics as any other field of inquiry,” said Dr. Andew Siemon, leader of the Breakthrough Listen science team at the University of California, Berkeley’s Seti Research Center.

Breakthrough Listen is a privately funded project to search for intelligent extra-terrestrial communications throughout the universe, according to the BBC. The 10-year project began in 2016 and was launched with $100 million in funding by billionaire Yuri Milner.

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