RT-70 radar telescope in Evpatoria, Ukraine

Messages From Earth Beamed to Alien World

9 Oct , 2008 by

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The powerful opening scene of the movie “Contact” portrays radio and television signals from Earth heading out into space. Then later in the film, shockingly, one of those signals — a televised speech by Adolf Hitler — is beamed back as a reply. Could that really happen? Could an alien civilization “find” us from our inherent noise? Or, if we want other intelligent life to know we’re here, will we have to take a more proactive or aggressive approach? Perhaps we’ll find out. Today, messages from Earth were beamed specifically at an alien world considered capable of supporting life, the planet Gliese 581c, a “super-Earth” located approximately 20 light years from us. The social networking site Bebo sponsored a competition for young people to share their views and concerns of life on Earth, and the winners’ messages were transmitted this morning from a radio telescope in Ukraine. Bebo was assisted by Dr. Alexander Zaitsev, who says the only way alien civilizations might find us is if we specifically make ourselves known.

501 photos, drawings and text messages were translated into binary format and beamed through space in a four and a half hour transmission by the huge RT-70 radar telescope in Evpatoria, Ukraine, normally used to track asteroids.

The transmission started at 0600 GMT on October 9. Oli Madgett, from the media company RDF Digital who came up with the idea, said the message “passed the Moon in 1.7 seconds, Mars in just four minutes and will leave our Solar System before breakfast tomorrow”. The media company footed the $40,000 (£20,000) bill for the transmission.

The message should reach the Gliese system by about 2029. Any reply to the messages probably wouldn’t reach Earth for 40 years.

Bebo’s intent was to raise awareness for the concerns that young people have for the future of Earth, and to generate interest in space exploration. Bebo spokesman Mark Charkin said, “A ‘Message From Earth’ presents an opportunity for the digital natives of today… to reconnect with science and the wider universe in a simple, fun and immersive way.”

Dr. Zaitsev was a consultant for the project, and is one of the world’s experts in interstellar radio communication and is Chief Scientist of the Radio Engineering and Electronics Institute, at the Russian Academy of Science. His early work helped design and implement radar devices to study Mercury, Venus and Mars and Near-Earth asteroid radar research. Lately, he has focused on interstellar radio messaging, and what he calls METI – Messaging to Extra Terrestrial Intelligence.

“The leakage is of commercial television radio is much weaker than coherent sounding radar signals, such as the Arecibo Radio Telescope or the Goldstone Solar System Radar,” Zaitsev told Universe Today. “The leakage is weakly detectable against a background of solar radio emissions. I do not say that any imaginable super-aggressive and powerful civilization cannot detect our leakage, however.”

Update 10/10: Zaitsev added that the idea of the A Message From Earth internet project was developed in 2002 from his abstract Project [email protected]: Messages to ETI from home,
(in English), and (in Russian). End of update.

As opposed to SETI, the Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence, METI takes a more proactive approach. In his paper “Making the Case for METI,” Zaitsev and two colleagues wrote, “It is possible we live in a galaxy where everyone is listening and no one is speaking. In order to learn of each others’ existence – and science – someone has to make the first move.”

Zaitsev has been involved in several deliberate transmissions to space in hopes of making contact. “Otherwise,” he said, “centers of intelligence are doomed to remain lonely, unobserved civilizations.”

METI, as well as the Bebo project, takes a complete opposite approach from the recently formed WETI – Wait for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence.

Source: BBC


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
mark lancaster
Guest
October 9, 2008 3:20 PM

Imagine a fraction of the money “wasted” on the financial bailout, used instead on space research?

neil
Member
neil
October 9, 2008 2:50 PM

$40,000 to send a message to someone who may or may not even be there? There has got to be a better way to spend that kind of money.

The Occupant
Member
The Occupant
October 9, 2008 2:54 PM

I agree with this totally. Of course, this does not replace SETI, any more then a microphone replaces a speaker. But it makes our voices heard in the cosmos. This is the sort of thing SETI is meant to detect. We can hardly hope to detect anything, if we ourselves are unwilling to say anything. Is there anyone out there? Are we just banging on our drums in a pleading call to the gods of the sky? That, is a question for philosophers.

simon
Member
simon
October 9, 2008 3:02 PM

I wonder if anyone knows how strong the signal would be when it reaches the Gliese system and the size of radio telescope required to pick up the transmission.

Farcall
Guest
October 9, 2008 3:08 PM

$40,000 ? A better use for it? I suppose we could use it to “bail out” something else failing, somewhere.

Truth be told, I think this is one of the best uses possible for any amount of money. We might someday get a return on that $40,000 worth more than we’re ever likey to get from any “Better way to spend that kind of money”.

Per
Guest
Per
October 9, 2008 3:24 PM

As a member of WETI, I’m only partially interested in this news, in that now I get to wait 40-plus years for a low-probability response.

Jorge
Guest
October 9, 2008 3:26 PM

Well, this was private money. The company paying the bill was, I’m sure, expecting a very earthly revenue in free advertizing, which it got, at least from sites such as this one. It’s an ad stunt, most of all.

It’s less silly than other ad stunts, though, even if the likelyhood that there’s anyone listening in Gliese 581 is just about zero. So I don’t think there’s motive for complaints here.

Jetdreams65
Member
Jetdreams65
October 9, 2008 3:30 PM

I agree with Farcall and Mark. It was such a minute amount of money compared to the money that gets thrown away bailing out institutions that don’t know how to manage themselves. Imagine a fraction of the money spent on things such as this applied to science and medicine.

RetardedFishFrog
Guest
RetardedFishFrog
October 9, 2008 3:30 PM

SETI, WETI METI I propose SPAGETI: space people against – something that starts with G – extra terrestrial intelligence.

I thought we just learned that these signals degraded after a couple of light years.

RetardedFishFrog
Guest
RetardedFishFrog
October 9, 2008 3:32 PM

I’d like to point out that the mentioning of Hitler in this article does not satisfy Godwin’s Law. smile

Jorge
Guest
October 9, 2008 3:36 PM

SPAGETI – Space People Against Gnawing Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence?

smile

Rey
Guest
Rey
October 9, 2008 3:52 PM

We’re fckd grin …they’ll know exactly where we are now. Thank you WETI for the early demise of the human civilization. grin

uncledan
Member
uncledan
October 9, 2008 4:08 PM
$40,000 would have bought a lot of server room for SETI somewhere. Or could have gone toward something here in this solar system such as a movement to try to get the dingbat NASA scientists to look for life on Europa, Mars, Enceladus, et al., instead of stupid cosmology-based science projects that tell us how the magnetic fields might work in Saturn’s 143st ring which translates to absolutely nothing learned in the long run and is totally lost on the public. How about some science we can work with or understand? I admit, it’s all fun for me because I stay up all night reading it but I really don’t see the point of half this stuff other… Read more »
RL
Member
RL
October 9, 2008 4:41 PM

I hope those aliens are friendly. If they live on a super earth then I bet they’ll be super strong. That could be trouble. I hope those messages don’t make us an inviting target.

But I wouldn’t blame WETI. Sending messages isn’t their style.

I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

kongaman
Guest
kongaman
October 9, 2008 5:18 PM

This is just the tip of the iceberg. There will be more and more such messages sent to the stars and nobody’s going to be able to stop them all.

Either way, get ready for the galaxy, humanity!

Silver Thread
Member
Silver Thread
October 9, 2008 8:04 PM
A colony of ants was brought to my attention the other day. It had begun to develop at the base of a lovely Douglas Fir and was spreading with fervor, unfortunately the growing assemblage of ants had caught the attention of a park visitor who felt the ant hill was too close to a picnic site and might be a problem. As I approached the anthill, I noticed a few broken bottles and the scattered remnants of spent fireworks littering the mound, testimony to earlier interactions my species had had with the ants. The Hill it’s self was a complex, bustling hive of activity and as I stood I noticed a couple of the diminutive creatures crawl across… Read more »
Alexander Zaitsev
Member
October 10, 2008 12:52 AM

An idea of AMFE Internet project was developed in 2002, see:

Project [email protected]: Messages to ETI from home,

http://www.cplire.ru/html/ra&[email protected]
(in English),
http://www.cplire.ru/rus/ra&sr/meti.html
(in Russian).

Gecko
Guest
Gecko
October 10, 2008 1:33 AM
Strangely I agree with silver thread? The reason for us to reach out to potential planets are underlined with survival? Beboians are concerned with the state of our planet so the better option will be to find anouther planet to exploit? Concider the senario, if a species are in the market for new cosmic realistate only one thing comes to mind; the last place we lived at was not good enough. Before we deside to send wack signals how about renovating and find a cleaner way to live. NO OTHER PLANET CAN SUPPORT US AS A SPECIES. if we need to survive in the long run we need to take our live support systems with us, all life… Read more »
Paul Eaton-Jones
Member
October 10, 2008 2:33 AM

I’m sure the inhabitants of the Gliese system will have enough garbage of their own to wade through without the numpties on Bebo bothering them with their, “Oh look, Susie has finished her yoghurt and is reading HEAT magazine”, or “Donny is away just now cutting his toenails but will be back soon to enrich your life with his pointless ramblings”. I could bite holes in concrete when I read stuff like this which could undermine the work of SETI.

TheCat
Guest
TheCat
October 10, 2008 6:10 AM

I always liked this story:

http://www.terrybisson.com/meat.html

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