08/07/2013 10:39 BST

UK Astronomers Co-Ordinate National Search For Alien Life Through SETI Research Network

Scientists in the UK are banding together to create an alien hunting network.

The UK SETI Research Network (UKSETIRN) will see 11 institutions, including the Jodrell Bank observatory, examine data from radio telescopes to hunt for extraterrestrial life.

Currently the Americans have the monopoly on this endeavour but the founders of UKSETIRN want to become a viable rival (or rather cooperator).

jodrell bank

The Lovell radio telescope at the Jodrell Bank observatory

Their fledgling website states:

There is a small but active group of SETI researchers in the UK, who need a forum to discuss their work. Further, we hope that the existence of the sessions will excite interest in people in the UK astronomical community, who have been thinking about SETI, to contribute their work.

We also hope that by exposing the whole range of UK SETI activities to the community it will promote a wider understanding of, and activity in, this subject, and the justifications for the allocation of a small fraction of the UK astronomy budget. The last UK-wide meeting on SETI was at the Royal Society Kavli Centre, as long ago as October 2010, so now, after this two and a half year gap, is an appropriate time for a SETI session.

In order to make the network a reality they hope to raise £1 million a year.

Dr Alan Penny, the English Astronomer Royal, told the BBC: "If we had one part in 200 — half a percent of the money that goes into astronomy at the moment — we could make an amazing difference.

"We would become comparable with the American effort."

The group held their first meeting last week at the National Astronomy Meeting (NAM2013) in St Andrews and plan further events.

They can be found on Facebook and on twitter using #setinam2013.