One of the topics tonight's guest, Seth Shostak, the Senior Astronomer for SETI, will be talking about, is the new Allen Telescope Array(1), now under construction. The facility at theHat Creek Observatory on a remote patch of Northern California land, will be a veritable "antenna orchard," said Shostak, containing 350 small radio telescopes all working together to greatly expand SETI's "stellar reconnaissance."
Made possible through funding by former Microsoft technologists Paul Allen and Nathan Myhrvold, the Array will give SETI full time access for their missions, whereas previously they only got a meager number of weeks out of the year to use facilities like Arecibo.
With this new form of radio astronomy, SETI's research could be taking a giant leap forward. SETI's current Project Phoenix currently tracks about a thousand stars. When the Allen Array goes online, they will have the ability to monitor transmissions from possibly 100,000 stars or more, because the Array can examine multiple stars simultaneously.