A NEW British organisation set up to find intelligent alien life was launched today.

Eleven observatories and institutions across the country have linked up to form the UK Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence Research Network.

Radio telescopes will listen for alien transmissions such as TV broadcasts and in the future could pick up airport-style radar signals.

Optical telescopes will look for flashes of light which could be messages as well as artificial “Death Star” structures. The project is being coordinated by Dr Alan Penny, of Scotland’s University of St Andrews.

Speaking at an astronomical conference at the university, he said: “If we detected a signal that was clearly artificial in origin, it would be profound.

“We might not understand it but it would tell us that we are not alone.”

Professor Ian Crawford, of Birkbeck University of London, said the moon’s soil might, over billions of years, have collected fragments of alien artefacts blown by stellar winds across the galaxy.

But he added: “If the galaxy is teeming with intelligent life, then where are they?

“I think it is almost inconceivable that the galaxy can be full of advanced technological civilisations and us not having noticed.”