The United States has inaugurated a massive radio telescope in rural West Virginia to listen for signs of extraterrestrial life on 86 Earth-like planets.
US astronomers said on Friday that the colossal dish will gather 24 hours of data on each of the planets, which have been selected from a list of 1,235 planets identified by NASA's Kepler space telescope, AFP reported.
"It's not absolutely certain that all of these stars have habitable planetary systems, but they're very good places to look for ET," said Andrew Siemion, one of the scientists working on the project.
The mission is part of the Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) project, which was launched in 1984 to search for electromagnetic transmissions from intelligent extraterrestrial creatures.
Siemion said that they are utilizing cutting edge equipment in radio astronomy technology, noting, “Our search employs the largest fully steerable radio telescope on the planet, and the most sensitive radio telescope in the world capable of undertaking a SETI search of this kind.”
He stated, "We will be looking at a much wider range of frequencies and signal types than has ever been possible before,” adding that the surface of the telescope is 100 by 110 meters and it can record nearly one gigabyte of data per second.
Earlier last month, the SETI institute announced that it had called off a major part of its efforts to discover extra-terrestrial communication due to budget cuts.