ANSI - American National Standards Institute
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Standards Aid in Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence


New York, Oct 12, 2007

Yesterday, astronomers in California activated the new Allen Telescope Array. Totaling 350 antennas when complete, the array will allow scientists to hear deeper into space than ever before – great news for the SETI Institute and other advocates of the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence program.

Each antenna has a diameter of just twenty feet, but used together as one large dish, the full array will be able to rapidly survey the entire sky in less than twenty-four hours.

But the array’s potential capabilities aren’t its only remarkable feature. Typically, radio telescopes are custom-built at significant cost. In contrast, the forty-two completed antennas at the Allen Telescope Array were fabricated from molds, and make use of inexpensive telecommunications technologies.

The array’s design incorporates many new technologies, including low-noise, wide-band amplifiers that make such broad sky surveys possible. A standard from ANSI-accredited standards developer the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers comes to the aid of astronomers. IEEE 111-2000, Standard for Wide Band (Greater than 1 Decade) Transformers, guides scientists in the application and testing of the amplified signals.

Did You Know?

  • There are more than 200 billion stars in our galaxy.
  • When complete, the Allen Telescope Array will be able to detect a signal from up to 500 light years away.
  • It will take three more years and an additional investment of $41 million to finish construction on the remaining 308 antennas.

Source: The New York Times

Optical fiber cables bring the signals received by the array to astronomers in the processing room. An American National Standard from the Insulated Cable Engineers Association provides guidelines on these cables, which need to be both durable and flexible. ANSI/ICEA S-87-640-2006, Optical Fiber Outside Plant Communications Cable, details performance requirements and testing methods, as well as cable and component assembly.

Over the next twenty years, the new array is expected to produce one thousand times more data than has been gathered in the past forty-five years. These signals from space are not only used for the SETI project; they also allow scientists to better understand astronomical bodies and events that were previously beyond their reach.



For more information about the Allen Telescope Array, view the joint press release from the SETI Institute and the Radio Astronomy Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley.

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