SETI, the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence, has resumed operations at its Allen Telescope Array in California. The search was suspended in April this year due to lack of funds, but now contributions from members of the public and investment by the US Air Force allowed the research to continue this week. The ATA is unlike most radio telescopes, using many smaller dishes in place of one large dish. This means that the telescope is easily scalable — adding more dishes makes the array more sensitive — and that no custom-built parts are required, just the same satellites used to broadcast TV. The USAF claims that its investment in SETI is a "formal assessment of the instrument's utility for Space Situational Awareness." In other words, it believes that the technology employed by the ATA could be used for detecting the position of orbiting objects when planning space travel.
The relaunch couldn't be timed better. Earlier this week, NASA announced that its Kepler space telescope has uncovered over 1,000 new potential life-supporting planets, bringing its total to 2,326. SETI has said that it will use the Kepler Observatory's discoveries to guide its research, allowing for more informed decisions to be made on which planets to focus on.