Are we alone? NASA should send this new message to extraterrestrials with an RSVP and our cosmic coordinates, scientists say


Should we transmit another message to possible extraterrestrial intelligences in the Milky Way galaxy? Yes, say a team of scientists led by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Los Angeles, who have developed a binary-encoded message that contains images of humans, our cosmic address and an RSVP request.

If transmitted, this so-called “Beacon in the Galaxy” will follow a tradition started in 1974 when scientists sent a message containing basic information about us and our planet into space using the Arecibo radio telescope. , now extinct.

What is the “beacon in the galaxy?”

This is an update to the famous Arecibo message, which was devised by Frank Drake, an American astronomer whose famous Drake equation seeks to estimate the number of active and communicating extraterrestrial civilizations in our galaxy from the Milky Way.

Although Arecibo’s message describes humanity and our place in space in simple graphic terms, it was more of a demonstration of human technological achievement. The same goes for the “Beacon in the Galaxy”, which will also be encoded in binary. The concept, published as a preprint, was submitted to the Galaxy Diary.

What happened to the “message from Arecibo?”

Not much so far…since its target is M13, a globular cluster of ancient stars, 25,000 light-years away and radio signals travel at the speed of light, the message – sent to a wavelength of 126 millimeters – is only 48 years old in its long journey. “The electromagnetic waves carrying Arecibo’s message traveled less than 0.2% of the distance to their target,” the paper read.

What form would the “Beacon in the Galaxy” take?

The “Beacon in the Galaxy” is an effort to use basic mathematical and physical concepts to establish a universal means of communication that could be decoded and interpreted by non-Earth intelligences.

Cue binary coding (the simplest form of math and probably universal throughout intelligence), and a message that focuses almost entirely on math and physics rather than possibly confusing human culture and language. It’s also carefully designed to elicit the kind of response humans would expect from extraterrestrial intelligence; it’s an invitation to a cosmic conversation that could span centuries.

What’s in the “Beacon in the Galaxy?”

  • information about the biochemical composition of life on Earth (including a visual representation of the four building blocks of DNA: adenosine, cytidine, guanosine and thymidine).
  • a timeline from the Big Bang to show the universal time the signal was sent (as well as scientific dates of events that advanced mankind, such as Isaac Newton discovering his laws of motion and force, relativity of Einstein, the beginning of the space age and the Moon landing in 1969).
  • the timestamped position of the solar system in the Milky Way relative to known globular clusters (so aliens know where to send their response and when to expect their message to arrive).
  • digitized representations of the solar system and the Earth’s surface.
  • digitized images of human beings.
  • an invitation for any receiving intelligence to respond (an image of the transmitting telescope and another generic telescope sending transmissions to each other).

Why do we need a ‘Beacon in the Galaxy?’

“Since the first faint flicker of sentience appeared in the primal minds of modern man’s distant ancestors a few hundred thousand generations ago, we have sought to communicate,” the article reads.

He goes on to say that ancient scholars gazed at the stars and asked the deepest of all questions: are we alone? “It would take five millennia to go from the Sumerian cuneiform to the great radio telescopes of the 20th and 21st centuries – and with that, the means to finally begin to search for an answer,” it reads.

How will the “Beacon in the Galaxy” be transmitted?

The transmitted binary-coded radio wave will be sent using one of the two largest and most powerful radio telescopes on Earth, the Five Hundred Meter Aperture Dish-Shaped Spherical Radio Telescope (FAST, but also called “Tianyan”) in Guizhou, southwest China and the 42 antennas of the Allen Telescope Array (ATA) of the SETI Institute in Hat Creek, northern California.

FAST is the successor to the collapsed Arecibo radio telescope, but its overall performance and sensitivity are several times better.

There is a small problem – FAST and the ATA can only receive radio messages, not send them – but upcoming updates may fix this problem.

Where will the “Beacon in the Galaxy” be transmitted?

The authors suggest aiming for the area of ​​the Milky Way most likely to contain intelligent life, estimating it to be a star cluster between two and six kiloparsecs (kph) from the center of the galaxy.

One kiloparsec is 3,260 light-years away, so we’re talking about a star cluster about 6,000 to 20,000 light-years away.

That’s much closer than the target of Arecibo’s message… but not exactly close. “We are maximizing the chances that the message will be received by an ETI,” the newspaper read. “Thus, we maximize the likelihood of receiving a response in the distant future.”

When will the “Beacon in the Galaxy” be transmitted?

It’s no coincidence that the appearance of the “Beacon in the Galaxy” comes just before the 50th anniversary of the Arecibo Message, but the actual timing is crucial to reaching the intended destination.

In order for the message to reach its target with maximum contrast, the least radio interference and to reduce absorption by the Earth’s atmosphere, it should be sent when the angle of separation between the Earth and the Sun is as big as possible. This means approximately March 30 or October 4 of a given year.

What is the “Beacon in the Galaxy” really for? “The ultimate goal of this post is to start a dialogue… no matter how far that may go in the future,” the newspaper read. “Humanity has a fascinating story to share and a desire to know others – and now the means to do so.”

I wish you clear skies and big eyes.


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