Kate Greene

A View from Kate Greene

SETI: The Next Generation

New telescope technology is expanding the search for extraterrestrial life.

  • October 17, 2007

Last week, the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute and the University of California, Berkeley, unveiled the first 42 radio dishes of the new Allen Telescope Array (ATA). This telescope–essentially a set of dish-shaped antennas that collect radiation from space–will point toward the sky, scanning it for stray signals and signs of extraterrestrial life. Eventually, the array will consist of a staggering 350 dishes.

Previously, most radio telescope arrays have had a relatively small number of antennas. But because of the drop in cost of high-performance radio amplifiers, it’s now feasible to build a large number of small dishes–each one in the ATA is six meters in diameter–while keeping costs down.

With 42 dishes, the radio will have a wide-angle view of the sky, be able to observe several star systems concurrently, and monitor 40 million radio channels. According to a press release on SETI’s website, the ATA will eventually look at a million nearby start systems–a thousand times more systems than has ever been examined in the past.

Tech Obsessive?
Become an Insider to get the story behind the story — and before anyone else.

Subscribe today

Uh oh–you've read all of your free articles for this month.

Insider Premium
$179.95/yr US PRICE

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe to Insider Premium.
  • Insider Premium {! insider.prices.premium !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Our award winning magazine, unlimited access to our story archive, special discounts to MIT Technology Review Events, and exclusive content.

    See details+

    What's Included

    Bimonthly home delivery and unlimited 24/7 access to MIT Technology Review’s website.

    The Download. Our daily newsletter of what's important in technology and innovation.

    Access to the Magazine archive. Over 24,000 articles going back to 1899 at your fingertips.

    Special Discounts to select partner offerings

    Discount to MIT Technology Review events

    Ad-free web experience

    First Look. Exclusive early access to stories.

    Insider Conversations. Listen in as our editors talk to innovators from around the world.

/
You've read all of your free articles this month. This is your last free article this month. You've read of free articles this month. or  for unlimited online access.