Jodie Foster played a scientist trying to communicate with aliens in ‘Contact’ — turns out it’s a cause that’s dear to the actress’s heart in real life.

Foster, along with 2,000 other private donors, has helped raise $ 200,000 to keep the nonprofit Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute running after its program to listen for alien signals fell victim to budget cuts.

“Just like Ellie Arroway, the ATA is ‘good to go’ and we need to return it to the task of searching newly discovered planetary worlds for signs of extraterrestrial intelligence,” Foster wrote in a note accompanying her donation. “The Allen Telescope Array could turn science fiction into science fact, but only if it is actively searching the skies.”

The Allen Telescope Array — named for Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, who funded its creation — is a collection of 42 massive radio dishes that work together to scan the universe for non-random signals that could be an indicator of intelligent life beyond the stars.

See Foster listening for signs of alien life in the trailer for ‘Contact,’ after the jump.

SETI’s been listening for aliens since 2007, but SETI was forced to shut down the operation in April 2011 for lack of funds.

Now, thanks to its SETIStars program, the institute has enough money to get the array up and running again within a couple months.

Other contributors to the fund include science fiction writer Larry Niven and Apollo 8 astronaut Bill Anders, who wrote: “It is absolutely irresponsible of the human race not to be searching for evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence.”


Do you believe there’s intelligent life out there?

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