The alien-hunting program called Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, or SETI, has just received a promise of $100 million over the next decade from Yuri Milner, a Russian venture capitalist who has previously invested in Facebook and Groupon, along with other scientific projects.
“This is beyond my wildest dreams,” one scientist said at a press conference Monday morning, according to The New York Times. Another researcher called the funding “a miracle.”
The investment will go toward building new equipment and hiring new staff, The New York Times reports, which will make it possible for SETI astronomers to detect any potential radar and laser signals from nearby solar systems. The money will also allow scientists to buy more observing time on the world’s largest telescopes: Until now, the SETI project could afford only one night of telescope use per year.
Milner called the $100 million project “Breakthrough Listen.”
In 2011, Fast Company named Milner one of the year’s most creative people.