Are we alone in the universe? Or is there life beyond the planet earth, which is trying to communicate with us?
To catch a message from the extraterrestrial life, a consortium of 17 countries, including India, is planning to build a radio telescope, 100 times more powerful than the most powerful available today.
The site for the project has to be selected by 2008 for which Australia and South Africa are in the forefront, Professor Govind Swarup, Emeritus Professor of Astrophysics, said at the ongoing 94th Indian Science Congress here.
The construction of the telescope is to start in 2010 and it will be completed by 2020. The cost of the project is now estimated at 1-1.5 billion dollars. Explaining the project, Dr Swarup said the telescope will consist of 8,000 dish antennas forming a 3,000 kilometre-long array with a 50,000 square metre surface area.
"According to the Drake Equation, there can be 1 to 10,000 planets where air, water and other elements needed for sustaining life are available," said Dr Swarup, a Fellow of Royal Society, London.