An interactive panoramic view of the place where scientists are hoping to make the first human contact with alien life
"When we get evidence of intelligent life out there, it's going to come through Hat Creek. That's going to be the place, " says Ron Barrett of Alameda, California, the photographer behind this interactive panoramic of the Allen Telescope Array. The 42 radio telescopes are pointed at the skies over the town of Hat Creek in northern California.
Barrett visited Hat Creek in January at the invitation of Jill Tarter, the director of the Center for SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Research who announced her retirement earlier this week. When Barrett arrived at the site, all of the radio-telescope dishes were pointed down for maintenance. Barrett asked for them to rotate for the pictures and, "It was like being God. All of the sudden all of these things were pointed to the sky," Barrett says. During Barrett's tour of the site, Gerry Harp -- who is to succeed Tarter -- told him he believed that a signal from intelligent life elsewhere in the galaxy could come "at any time" now, and that with new evidence from NASA's Kepler mission to find habitable planets, they were able to better train the telescopes on promising sites in the galaxy. Barrett recalls, "I said to him, we're up here alone, just the two of us. But when you get that signal, this place is going to be inundated with people, selling t-shirts and checking it out. This place is destined to be a national shrine."