Thanks to your donations, we've started searching for E.T. again

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Dec 16, 2012, 12:07 PM EST

In August we noticed that the SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) Institute received $200,000 in donations after having its budget cruelly cut back in April. Now we're happy to report that SETI has finally dusted off its ATA (Allen Telescope Array), and is back in business. The business of finding aliens, that is.

SETI's turning the power back on came just in time. Their announcement that they've resumed their work comes hot on the heels of a NASA announcement that its spacecraft/telescope, Kepler, has discovered an important planet, Kepler 22b, more than 600 light-years away. It's important because Kepler 22b exists within its star's habitable zone, where it's neither too hot nor too cold for liquid water to exist on the planet.

According to a SETI press release, "Highest priority will be given to the handful of worlds discovered so far that are located in their star's habitable zone."

Jill Tarter, the Director of the Center for SETI Research at the SETI Institute, wrote,

"Kepler's success has created an amazing opportunity to focus SETI research. While discovery of new exoplanets via Kepler is backed with government monies, the search for evidence that some of these worlds might be home to intelligence falls to SETI alone. And our SETI exploration depends entirely on private donations, for which we are deeply grateful to our donors."

You can follow SETI's exploits, or perhaps donate more, at the Institute's website, here.

(via BoingBoing)