$100M Boost for SETI

The Breakthrough Prize Foundation and billionaire entrepreneur Yuri Milner launch a $100 million search for extraterrestrial intelligence.

Jul 20, 2015
Tracy Vence

Atacama Large Millimeter Array antenna on the Chajnantor Plateau in ChileEUROPEAN SOUTHERN OBSERVATORYScientists’ search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) just got a big boost. Working in collaboration with billionaire entrepreneur Yuri Milner, the Breakthrough Prize Foundation is launching a $100 million international initiative, “Breakthrough Listen,” through which scientists will search for signs of life beyond Earth.

“This particular area, the question of a SETI search, is a vital part of the quest for life in the universe,” Pete Worden, Breakthrough Prize Foundation chairman and former director of the NASA Ames Research Center, told reporters during a press conference following the announcement. “We are [supporting] an area that’s not being funded by the government.”

Milner pledged at least $100 million in support for the initiative over the next 10 years, The New York Times reported. Funded scientists will have access to technologies to “listen” for possible broadcast signals emitted from other planets and alien spacecraft. During the press conference, Worden said that he and his colleagues will request reviews of project-related work from the field’s top scientists.