In a surprise move that has shocked scientists, Congress is now proposing to give $10 million to the search for extraterrestrial life, an event which has not occurred for 25 years.
The House of Representatives is seriously considering a brand new bill that would take funding created for NASA and use it over the course of the next couple of years with the goal of looking for “technosignatures, such as radio transmissions, in order to meet the NASA objective to search for life’s origin, evolution, distribution, and future in the universe,” as Live Science reports.
If you’re wondering what these extraterrestrial technosignatures might be, they are radio waves. It is assumed that a highly advanced alien civilization would have the capability to create such signals to try and contact other civilizations.
As Jill Tarter, the previous director of the SETI Institute explained, if Congress were to actually pass the $10 million bill to search for extraterrestrial life, it would be a huge turnaround for the government.
“If it passes, it would definitely be a sea-change in Congressional attitude since Senator Richard Bryan terminated NASA’s SETI program, the High Resolution Microwave Survey, in 1993.”
The program that was abruptly canceled in 1993 had been created by NASA and employed the use of Puerto Rico’s Arecibo Telescope to try and detect faraway signals from alien civilizations. This came to a swift end when Senator Bryan deemed SETI unworthy of government funding.
— SPACE.com (@SPACEdotcom) May 11, 2018
Tarter further stated that Senator Richard Bryan made vague threats that if SETI were ever attempted to be introduced back into the government’s budget again that it would hurt NASA.
“Bryan made it clear to the administration that if they came back with SETI in their budget again, it wouldn’t be good for the NASA budget. So, we instantly became the four-letter S-word that you couldn’t say at headquarters anymore, and that has stuck for quite a while.”
Interestingly, the new $10 million proposal for the search for alien life has come about partly through the work of Texas Representative Lamar Smith, who is not a big believer in the idea that humans are contributing to global warming.
If the new bill manages to pass in both the House and the Senate, Tarter believes that it would be a massive help in the search for extraterrestrial life.
“It allows for new instrumentation to be built, and data collected and analyzed at scale, by a global community. You need to remember that this is an authorization bill, not an appropriations bill. Even if it passes, the appropriators may not provide any SETI funding in their bill. But if they do, that would be a very big deal.”
With Congress now advocating a new bill that would see $10 million spent on the search for extraterrestrial life, scientists everywhere are rejoicing.