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California Wildfires Obstruct Search for Extraterrestrial Activity

California Wildfires Obstruct Search for Extraterrestrial Activity

ET might not be able to call home now that the massive telescope operation dedicated to finding extraterrestrial activities has been interrupted due to the widespread Northern California wildfires.

According to the Los Angeles Times, on Tuesday some of the computers and receivers were damaged at the SETI Institute’s Allen Telescope Array. Seth Shostak, the institute’s senior astronomer and director of SETI research, said that the Eiler fire burning less than a mile away from the Hat Creek installation, “makes the equipment at the observatory very unhappy.” The Observatory has been viewing space from the clear skies of eastern Shasta County since 1959.

Due to the extreme heat given off by the more than 100,000 acres of burning landscape, the electronics get confused. The Times reports that the nearby Eiler fire in the Lassen National Forest alone has burned nearly 32,000 acres. Now that the fire appears to be burning away from the observatory, the facility is cooling down, and systems are expected to be back up and running by Friday, said Shostak.

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