Since 2007, astronomers at the SETI Institute in Northern California have been scanning the great beyond for signs of alien life.

However, due to a decrease in the funding the institute receives from NASA and other government sources, the institute will have to shut down the powerful bank of 42 radio dishes that it uses to target unexplored planets.

According to Seth Shostak, the senior astronomer at the institute, they were just about about to explore a cluster of 50 to 60 planets that "appear to be about the right distance from stars to have temperatures that could make them habitable" when their funding got pulled.

The institute is hopeful that either private money or another government organization will step in so they can continue their research.

[Yahoo]