SEATTLE: Microsoft Corp co-founder Paul Allen has donated $13.5 million to help fund the search for extraterrestrial life.

The California-based Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, which is dedicated to the search for life beyond earth, said the donation from Allen, who co-founded Microsoft with Bill Gates, would be used to create a radio telescope array of more than 200 satellite dishes that will measure signals from space.

SETI plans to increase the array to a total of 350 satellite dishes.

"An instrument of this magnitude ... will result in the expansion of our understanding of how the universe was formed, and how it has evolved and our place therein," Allen said in a statement.

A long-time science fiction fan, Allen has already devoted millions of dollars to exploring outer space and is building a science-fiction museum in his hometown of Seattle.

His donation comes at a time of a renewed interest in space exploration. NASA's Mars rovers have discovered evidence of water on the surface of the Red Planet and President George W Bush has outlined plans for an ambitious space initiative, including a manned mission to Mars.
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Will M$ be the first compagny to sell human product to ET little guy?