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Australia and partners ramp up search for alien life

Giant radio telescopes aim to probe secrets of the universe

SKA-Low prototype antennas on-site at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory in Western Australia. The SKA project has been compared in importance to NASA's James Webb Space Telescope. (Courtesy of the International Center for Radio Astronomy Research)

PERTH, Australia -- In the arid inland of Western Australia, 700 kilometers north of Perth, the state capital, a road sign tells visitors to turn off mobile phones, satellite phones and CB radio transmitters as they enter a radio quiet zone at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory.

Here, in the red desert plains and rocky outcrops that make up the land of the Indigenous custodians, the Wajarri Yamaji people, the days are dry, the nights are silent and the heavens are emblazoned with stars. These are perfect conditions for the observatory's scientists as they ponder one of humankind's most intriguing questions -- is there intelligent life in space?

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