SETI Hangs Up Phone Line to ET
Budget cuts force institute to shut down search for extraterrestrial life
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 27, 2011 1:18 PM CDT
SETI's Allen Telescope Array in Hat Creek, Calif.   (AP Photo/Ben Margot, File)

(Newser) – Budget cuts have forced the SETI Institute in California to shut down its famous search for extraterrestrial life, reports the San Jose Mercury News. The institute can no longer afford to operate its Allen Telescope Array, which has been scanning outer space for sign of communication since 2007. As a result, it's been in what the institute calls "hibernation" since April 15.

"There is a huge irony that a time when we discover so many planets to look at, we don't have the operating funds to listen," said SETI's director, referring to the dozens of new planets spotted by the Kepler telescope. Billionaire Paul Allen provided much of the money to build the system in the first place, but the costs of day-to-day operations are proving too much now that the National Science Foundation and the state of California have slashed contributions, notes Live Science.