by Clara Moskowitz, SPACE.com Senior Writer
E.T., the phone line is open and SETI is waiting for your call. And apparently Jodie Foster, too.
The nonprofit Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute, which was forced earlier this year to shutter its Allen Telescope Array, used to listen for alien signals, due to budget issues, has raised enough money to resume the search for life beyond planet Earth.
The institute reached its goal last week of raising $200,000 to operate the telescope through the end of this year. The funds came from over 2,000 private donors, including the actress Jodie Foster, who played fictional SETI scientist Ellie Arroway in the 1997 movie "Contact."
"Just like Ellie Arroway, the ATA is 'good to go' and we need to return it to the task of searching newly discovered planetary worlds for signs of extraterrestrial intelligence," Foster wrote in a note accompanying her donation. "The Allen Telescope Array could turn science fiction into science fact, but only if it is actively searching the skies." [10 Wild Attempts to Contact Aliens]
The Allen Telescope Array is SETI's collection of 42 radio dishes, each 20 feet (6 meters) wide, at Hat Creek Radio Observatory in Northern California. The dishes work together to scan the heavens for signs of an intelligent civilization out there in the cosmos creating non-random signals.