The PLANETS foundation so desperately wants to find life outside our solar system that it’s willing to pimp out its astronomers and equipment to do it.
The Polarized Light from Atmospheres of Nearby ExtraTerrestrial Systems, or PLANETS foundation, is “dedicated to helping develop the technology, algorithms, and observing tools that will allow us to find life in the Universe.” To do that, it needs telescopes, and to get telescopes it needs money. To get money, it’s willing to let you use its telescopes.
So far, the half-complete PLANETS Telescope is funded entirely through research grants, but the foundation recently launched a Patreon Campaign hoping to crowdsource the rest of its funding.
It starts off simple enough, a t-shirt for $25 dollars a month, or for $50 a month get access to professional exoplanet data analysis tools. At the $250 per month donation level, you can observe, albeit remotely, with one of its astronomers, but at the $5,000 per month mark, you can make an astronomer speak at your event. The coolest gift for helping PLANETS in its search for life elsewhere in the universe is at a level few could afford, $10,000 a month. For that amount of money, you can tell PLANETS exactly where to point its gigantic telescopes and it will give you all the data analysis to boot.
Before you go saving up every penny you find, remember the curvature of the Earth and the design of deep space telescopes keeps this equipment from being a creative way around Shelly’s restraining order. Your money is donated purely for the advancement of science and the PLANETS Foundation mission, which is, “to seek out new life and new civilizations.” Wait, no, that’s Star Trek, but you get the idea.