In October 1992, astronomers kicked off an ambitious project years in the making. Two radio telescopes, one in Puerto Rico and the other in California, started scouring the night sky for potential signals from alien civilizations somewhere deep in the cosmos.
“We begin the search,” declared Jill Tarter, the project scientist, as the telescopes started listening around glimmering stars many light-years from Earth.
A year later, the search was suddenly over. A senator from Nevada wiped out all funding for any efforts in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, or SETI, in NASA’s budget, including this new project.