Britain is about to join the United States in the hunt for alien life. Scientists at Jodrell Bank, site of the country's largest radio telescope, are holding talks with the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute in California, which wants to search the skies above Britain for alien radio signals.
The collaboration will widen the net in the hunt for other civilizations, which has been given added impetus by the evidence last week that primitive life may have existed on Mars.
Professor Frank Drake, president of the SETI Institute at Mountain View, near San Francisco, said: "British scientists have always been rather conservative in their views about extraterrestrial life but they have a brilliant record in radio astronomy, so we are thrilled at the prospect of doing something together."
He said that SETI researchers would visit Jodrell Bank, in Cheshire, over several months to make observations with the 76-metre Lovell radio telescope.
Andrew Lyne, Professor of Astronomy at Manchester University, which operates the telescope, confirmed that negotiations were under way. "We would provide the telescope and sensitive receivers, and the SETI Institute would provide the expertise to look at the signals," Professor Lyne said.
Professor Lyne agreed that the news about Mars last week had stirred interest in such projects: "Our raison d'etre is to further research into the universe as a whole and the question of other civilizations is of great public interest. Now, possibly, the time is right."
Original file name: CNI - Brits Join SETI Search
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