California-based SETI Institute has received a $3.5 million donation to beef up its radio search for extraterrestrials, the organization announced Wednesday.

The money came from Franklin Antonio, a co-founder and chief scientist of Qualcomm, a San Diego, Calif.-based firm that designs and manufactures digital wireless communications products and services.

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Appropriately, the donation will be used to improve the infrastructure for picking up a very, very, long distance call.

The SETI Institute plans to more than double the sensitivity of the Allen Telescope Array, which, among other projects, scans for non-naturally occurring radio transmissions that could be a sign of a technologically advanced civilization elsewhere in the galaxy.

In conjunction with Antonio’s gift, the SETI Institute is launching a $1 million fund-raising drive for a research project to explore some of the extrasolar planets being discovered by NASA’s Kepler space telescope and ground-based observatories.

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The aim of the institute’s science initiatives is to expand understanding of the origins of life and the extent to which life may be present beyond Earth.

Image: The SETI Institute’s Allen Telescope Array is getting an upgrade that will increase its range and sensitivity. Credit: SETI Institute