Jodie Foster is among thousands who in just 45-days raised $200,000 to re-open the Allen Telescope Array that search space for potential extraterrestrial life.
The 42 radio telescopes in North California had to be shut down by The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute, or SETI, who lost their funding in the public budget cuts.
SETI operate their telescopes 24 hours per day; the search for E.T. began in 2001 when the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation contributed $11.5 million. In 2004, construction of the telescopes began thanks to a $13.5 million donation from Microsoft Co-Founder Paul Allen.
Foster was one of 2400 donors to contribute to the project. "The Allen Telescope Array could turn science fiction into science fact but only if it is actively searching the skies," she said on the fund rising Website. Foster played the lead role of an astronomer looking for evidence of aliens in the film "Contact."
"The plan for re-starting the Allen Telescope Array is almost complete, with a target date for new observations sometime in mid-September if all goes well. We are also working on new opportunities for you to participate in our science. So stay tuned!" SETI wrote on its Website thanking all the SETI stars for their generous contributions.
Despite being happy with the progress of the fund raising campaign, SETI CEO Tom Pierson explained that the institution is not out of the woods and looking into cutting operating and science operations costs, which rounds out to about $2.5 million annually.
"We're not completely out of the woods yet, but everybody's smiling here," said Pierson. "We think we're going to come out of hibernation and be solid for the next five months or so, and during those five months we're going to take care of calendar year 2013 and put that under our belt."
The Institute is looking for a new operating model, since the University of California at Berkeley is no longer providing funding.