The BBC's Astronomers want public funds for intelligent life search says:

Nasa once funded the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence to the tune of $10m a year. But the funding was scrapped in 1993 following the introduction of legislation by Senator Richard Bryan, who believed it to be a waste of money.

"This hopefully will be the end to the Martian hunting season at the taxpayer's expense," he said at the time.

Question: How did NASA fund searches for extraterrestrial life before 1993? Did it supply grants to academic institutions for example, or do the work itself? How were said searches actually done? Were there instruments built, or simulations run, or studies for example?

just fyi, the article continues

There has been no significant public funding for Seti in the US or anywhere else in the world since, although so-called astrobiology searches for evidence of simple organisms from the chemical signatures in the atmosphere's of other worlds receives increasing backing.


Project Ozma

Project Ozma was a pioneering SETI experiment started in 1960 by Cornell University astronomer Frank Drake, at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, Green Bank at Green Bank, West Virginia. The object of the experiment was to search for signs of life in distant planetary systems through interstellar radio waves.

P.S. USA prevented direct funding from NASA from the early days of SETI until 1982.

The state-funded Project CETI headed by Josef Shklovskii in Soviet Union made no progress after listening to 600 nearby stars, and the investigators eventually gave up. Political hostility in the USA prevented direct funding from NASA from the early days of SETI until 1982. Later, SETI’s status within NASA improved and the SETI Project Office became a fully fledged department. The longest full-time search to date has been undertaken by Bob Dixon of Ohio State University, who began, in the early 1970s, listening at the 1.42 GHz (hydrogen) frequency, also known as the ‘21 -centimetre line’. Of significance in SETI’s history is the famous ‘Wow* signal of August 1977 which was recoding by a technician at Ohio in response to an apparent signal. Unfortunately the signal was not repeated.

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    $\begingroup$ @uhoh added remark $\endgroup$ – A. Rumlin Feb 16 at 6:07

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