SETI 的历史 - 14

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<资料来源:The Planetary Society>


NASA 已经为 SETI 的事情感到棘手很长时间了,它通过裁减资源尺度使其他的冒险活动都变得渺小。甚至不受约速的组,像 SETI,常常高兴的在 NASA 的项目安排下研究,它比超出它们自己的范围要好的多。但是自从取消了 HRMS(High Resolution Mass Spectrometer,高分辨率质谱仪)的几年里,一些新的富有创新精神的项目,比如 SETI@homeOptical SETI,渐渐崭露头角并且获得一席之地。

这些项目中的一些工作是 SETI同盟 的。大约1300个狂热者沉着的很,同盟在为建立一个由 SETI 业余观测者组成的网络而努力者。每个人都用它们自己的天线工作。最后,SETI同盟 希望有不少于5000个 SETI 观测平台遍布全世界。目前只有仅仅超过100个观察者,他们有很长的路要走。SETI同盟 正在北新泽西部署一组碟形天线。它们叫作“Array2k”。当完成后,这组天线将组成一组新的射电望远镜。它们将专心的为 SETI 的事业而献身。

在 SETI 最好的支持和有希望的项目中有个叫 ALLEN TELESCOPE ARRAY(艾伦望远镜组),它将要建在北加利福尼亚Cascade 山上的 Hat Creek 观察站。Allen 组是由UC伯克利和 SETI 共同创立的。它是由微软的创始人保罗艾伦捐资二千六百万美元建设的。当完成后,Allen 将由350个每个直径6米(20英尺)组成,它的搜索区域比一个100米直径的碟形天线大的多。

The Allen Array
An artist's conception of the completed Allen Telescope Array at dusk. Credit: The SETI Institute

The Allen Array represents a true breakthrough for radio SETI. As a dedicated observatory, SETI researchers will be using it year-round to search for alien signals, as compared to the several weeks every year, which are allotted to Project Phoenix at Arecibo. In addition, since it is composed of hundreds of separate dishes, the array can be pointed at several points in the sky at the same time, and therefore listen to signals from several stars simultaneously. The latest technology will enable the Array to cover a frequency band 9 gigahertz wide, more than 3 times wider than project Phoenix, which scans the widest band of any of today's searches. All of this represents a qualitative leap in the capacity of SETI searches, and increases the chances of detecting a "real" signal several-fold.

SETI research suffered a severe blow with the cancellation of the NASA program in 1993, but thanks to the leadership of The SETI Institute and The Planetary Society it recovered quickly. While no longer commanding the scale of resources made available through NASA, SETI programs are also free from the political and funding hazards that come with dependence on government funding. SETI after NASA is perhaps a smaller enterprise, but it is also more diverse, more widely accepted in academic institutions around the world, and - as the phenomenal success of SETI@home has demonstrated - remarkably popular with the public at large. With a broader base and a wider appeal, SETI today is a more viable enterprise than ever before. And although no alien signal has yet been detected, the hope still burns and the search continues...

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