ABC News (AU)

A mock 'alien message' was beamed to Earth by the European Space Agency - they want you to decode it

ABC News (AU) logo ABC News (AU) 27.05.2023 08:32:29
An institute searching for aliens wants the public to help decode potential alien signals. (Supplied: European Space Agency )

If Earth received an extraterrestrial message, how would you interpret it? 

That's what the European Space Agency (ESA) wants to find out.

It sent out a mock alien message from an ESA spacecraft orbiting Mars, beaming a small coded message back to our planet.

Picked up by radio receivers on Earth, groups of astronomers and enthusiasts set to work decoding it. 

But everyday people are also being challenged to crack the code. 

The project is called A Sign in Space.

It was created by Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) artist, Daniela de Paulis.

It brings together researchers, artists and the public in what's been called a "global theatre".

"Throughout history, humanity has searched for meaning in powerful and transformative phenomena," de Paulis said. 

"Receiving a message from an extraterrestrial civilisation would be a profoundly transformational experience for all humankind."

The ExoMars Orbiter transmitted the encoded message early on May 25. 

Like a theoretical alien signal, the transmission being broadcast for A Sign in Space was picked up by several radio astronomy observatories around the world. 

They were:

Following the transmission, the three participating teams will process the signal and make it available to the public for decoding.

The idea is to get other disciplines involved in the decoding process, according to Allen Telescope Array project scientist Dr Wael Farah. 

It's about bringing cultural and philosophical knowledge to the table that astronomers and other scientists may not have.

"This experiment is an opportunity for the world to learn how the SETI community, in all its diversity, will work together to receive, process, analyse, and understand the meaning of a potential extraterrestrial signal," said Dr. Farah.

You can submit any scientific data, thoughts, sketches, drawings and ideas as interpretation of the message, SETI says. 

Contributions will be posted on the project's website and social media.

There's also a Discord server set up for people working to decode the message.

Public discussions over Zoom will then be held, giving participants the chance to "consider the societal implications of detecting a signal from an extraterrestrial civilisation".

Whether or not you attempt to decode the message, the Sign in Space project is about encouraging people to explore answers to important questions:

How would you feel if we were contacted by a life form of extraterrestrial origin?

How should we reply?

The project boils down to "delving into the realm of the unknown".

"It's about grappling with these existential quandaries, expanding our collective understanding of the Universe and our place in it," SETI says. 

To simulate potential communication from an advanced alien civilisation, ESA says. 

"Just like like art, an extraterrestrial signal could be interpreted in countless ways."

Through A Sign in Space, ESA hopes to "encourage a vibrant community of curious minds, coming together to unravel the mysteries concealed within the simulated alien communication". 

The agency says these kinds of collaborative initiatives exchanges of ideas will only add to their space efforts.

"Space exploration is about science and technology, but also society, culture and our ideas about who we are and what matters to us most."

If you're up to take a crack at the decoding, you can download the message at the Sign in Space website and then follow the links to the submission form

samedi 27 mai 2023 11:32:29 Categories: ABC News (AU)

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