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Foster helps to save telescopes searching for alien life

Scientists at the Search For Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute were forced to shut down their fleet of 42 radio dishes, which scan deep space for radio transmissions, due to state budget cuts.

But the Allen Telescope Array is now back online after a group of investors donated more than $200,000 (£125,000) to get the project back on track.

It has since emerged that Foster, who played a SETI scientist in the 1997 movie Contact, is one of those who contributed to the fund, along with former NASA astronaut William Anders, who flew to the moon in 1968 as part of the Apollo 8 mission.

In a note accompanying his donation, Anders writes, ""It is absolutely irresponsible of the human race not to be searching for evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence.""