Private funds will make listening data publicly available
O. Alexandrov, CC BY-SA 3.0 (left); NRAO/AUI/NSF (middle); David McClenaghan, CSIRO (right)
First contact with an alien civilization might now be in the hands of a Russian billionaire.
Yuri Milner, an entrepreneur and venture capitalist, is throwing $100 million at the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. Powerful radio and optical telescopes will be drafted to listen and look for interstellar broadcasts, Milner announced July 20 at a news conference in London. The data will be made publicly available so that anyone can lend a hand in the hunt for E.T.
The plan is to listen and look for radio and laser transmissions from 1 million of the sun’s closest neighbors in addition to 100 of the nearest galaxies. The initiative, named Breakthrough Listen, guarantees up to 25 percent of the time available on two radio telescopes: Green Bank in West Virginia and Parkes in Australia. These instruments should be able to pick up