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Europe's Low Frequency Array hopes to complement SETI's search for extraterrestrial communications.

Europe looks to complement SETI’s search for alien signals

SETI's Allen Telescope Array (credit: SETI)

SETI's Allen Telescope Array (credit: SETI)

Scanning the skies for extraterrestrial signals is nothing new. The SETI Institute (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) in the United States has been using radio telescopes to listen for ET signals for decades. But a recent budget deficit hampered SETI’s efforts, as operations at their Allen Telescope Array in California were suspended. Fortunately for SETI and other researchers though, the search continues.

While their Allen Telescope Array is inactive, SETI continues to operate. University of California, Berkeley astronomers recently announced a listening project in progress that involves pointing the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia at 86 planets that have been selected as worlds most likely to resemble Earth, with the hopes of detecting an alien signal. The data collected from this project will be analyzed by a network of computers running SETI software called the SETI@home project.

LOFAR in the Netherlands (credit: Topfoto Assen/LOFAR)

LOFAR in the Netherlands (credit: Topfoto Assen/LOFAR)

But search efforts aren’t isolated to the United States. Europe’s Low Frequency Array, or LOFAR, came online last year, and hopes to complement SETI’s search for signs of extraterrestrial life. TheWorld.org describes, “LOFAR consists of fields of antennas spread out over five European countries.” And while many radio telescopes scan for signals at higher frequencies, LOFAR is designed to aim at the lower, noisier bands.

Mike Garrett, director of ASTRON, the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy, told TheWorld.org that LOFAR might help to broaden the search for alien signals. He explained that LOFAR “would be a great complement to [SETI], since no one knows what part of the radio spectrum might hide signals from an alien civilization.”

Astronomers working with LOFAR hope that SETI is able to resume full operations soon, so that a broader spectrum of frequencies is being scanned for that elusive communication from an extraterrestrial civilization.

Read more about SETI in the news.

About Jason McClellan

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Jason McClellan is a UFO journalist and the producer/co-host of the web series Spacing Out! He is also the web content manager and staff writer for OpenMinds.tv, and a co-organizer and technical producer of the International UFO Congress. As a founding member of Open Minds, Jason served as a writer and editor for the now defunct Open Minds magazine. He has appeared on Syfy, NatGeo, and, most recently, he co-starred on H2's Hangar 1: The UFO Files. ------ Follow Jason on Twitter @acecentric and subscribe to Jason's updates on Facebook.