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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 2002 > Jun > Jun 28

Shipment Of Dishes Expands ET Search

From: Stig Agermose <stig.agermose@privat.dk>
Date: Fri, 28 Jun 2002 06:13:28 +0200
Fwd Date: Fri, 28 Jun 2002 10:22:19 -0400
Subject: Shipment Of Dishes Expands ET Search


Source: Record Searchlight - Redding, Northern California

http://www.redding.com/top_stories/local/20020627toplo020.shtml

Stig


***

Shipment of dishes expands ET search

350 dishes will make up network for the telescope to scan heavens

**

Jen Cooper

Record Searchlight

June 27, 2002 =97 7:36 a.m.

*

HAT CREEK OBSERVATORY =97 The arrival Wednesday of eight reflector
dishes puts researchers at the SETI Institute one step closer to
their goal: finding extraterrestrial life in space.

The huge metal dishes, which are 20 feet by 24 feet and weigh
more than 1,000 pounds each, are part of the Allen Telescope
Array. The project will use 350 separate dishes to scan the
heavens for life while simultaneously record traditional
astronomy data.

The first shipment of dishes arrived at the Hat Creek
Observatory, operated by the University of California at
Berkeley since the 1960s, shortly before 9 a.m. An 18-wheel
truck that carried them was escorted by three California Highway
Patrol vehicles.

Truck driver Ron Chisham hauled the dishes from Idaho and said
he got used to pointing and staring from other drivers during
his three-day trek. Many people asked if his cargo was a UFO, he
said.

The dome-shaped silver dishes look like Hollywood's rendition of
extraterrestrial spacecraft, minus flashing lights and tiny
green men. Chisham and researchers joked about the resemblance
Wednesday morning, saying people probably assumed the dishes
were coming from Area 51 =97 a secured military base north of Las
Vegas rumored to harbor alien life =97 not Idaho Falls.

The Allen Telescope Array was originally called the One Hectare
Telescope, but the name was changed to reflect the gifts of
Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. To date, Allen has given $11.5
million for the project.

The project is a joint venture between the Mountain View-based
SETI Institute and the University of California at Berkeley. The
institute was named for the discipline of astronomy known as
search for extraterrestrial intelligence.

Seven of the eight reflector dishes were unloaded at the Hat
Creek Observatory, located about 70 miles southeast of Redding
near Lassen Volcanic National Park. The remaining dish was sent
to Antioch where it will be the first dish fully assembled and
wired.

Three of the dishes at the Hat Creek Observatory will be used to
make a test array, which should be fully put together in about
three weeks.

Diane Richards, SETI's director of marketing and communication,
said the most significant thing about this telescope =97 set to be
completed in 2005 =97 is that it will allow researchers the
opportunity to look for life 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

"That's always been a dream of ours," she said. "This is the
first major step."

SETI research is done using radio signals. Researchers target
specific stars and then use different channels to look for radio
emissions.

The Allen Telescope Array also will be able to capture visual
images of space. This telescope will be the first able to take
pictures almost instantly, said David DeBoer, deputy project
manager and engineer.

"Contrary to the National Enquirer, there's absolutely no proof
of extraterrestrials," DeBoer said. "We think one of the best
ways to find out is to look at the transmissions they emit."

Currently, SETI's research is conducted using a telescope in
Puerto Rico, but the institute gets limited time =97 less than two
months every year. Until the telescope array is finished, SETI
will continue to use the Puerto Rico telescope.

"We've been working on this for several years. These are the
first tangible things in the field," he said, motioning to the
eight dishes stacked on the truck.

When SETI's own telescope is completed, researchers predict that
within one or two months, the institute will have collected the
same amount of data as all other SETI projects in the past 40
years.

"It will vastly expand what we're doing," Richards said. "We've
only observed a small number of stars compared to how many stars
there are in the universe."

Before SETI can proceed with its work, it needs to secure about
$12 million in additional funding, Richards said. SETI
researchers are hoping the test array will be successful and
Allen, or another donor, will agree to donate the remaining
funds.

The tests are set to be completed by October, Richards said.
Production on the final telescope is expected to be under way by
next summer.

The fully assembled dishes will be about 30 feet tall, and when
all 350 are installed, they'll stretch for about a -mile radius,
DeBoer said.

Already the Hat Creek Observatory draws more than 1,000 visitors
each year. The telescope array will most likely lead to many
more interested sky-watchers, and DeBoer said the institute has
a long-term goal of building a visitor's center.

DeBoer said people are intrigued with SETI's work because the
institute is seeking to answer an age-old question: Are we alone
in the universe?

The Allen Telescope Array's progress is being watched closely by
other researchers because it could be a prototype for a much
larger international telescope that would have 100 times the
capability of SETI's telescope.

"It just makes our project all the more exciting to have that
potential in front of it," DeBoer said.

Reporter Jen Cooper can be reached at 225-8215 or at:

jcooper@redding.com.

**

Thursday, June 27, 2002

=A92002 Record Searchlight - The E.W. Scripps Co. All rights
reserved.




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