SETI Institute invites public to participate in interplanetary 'A Sign in Space' Project

SETI Institute has launched the 'A Sign in Space' project, a simulated alien encounter that invites the public to participate in decoding a message transmitted from Mars to Earth.
Daniel Lehewych
Cute Aliens

In an unprecedented move, the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute has launched an exercise that could change how we view the cosmos. It's not the arrival of extraterrestrials, but 'A Sign in Space' is a close second. This project is a cosmic fire drill, an opportunity for the public to engage in decoding a radio message transmitted from Mars to Earth.

The mind behind this interplanetary endeavor is artist Daniela de Paulis, who said, "Receiving a message from an extraterrestrial civilization would be a profoundly transformational experience for all humankind." She envisions 'A Sign in Space' as 'global theatre,' uniting researchers, artists, and the general public for a common purpose.

The encoded message, a creation of de Paulis and her team, is set to be dispatched from Mars via the European Space Agency's (ESA) ExoMars Orbiter. Then, approximately 16 minutes later, its earthly arrival will be detected by radio telescopes, including the Allen Telescope Array, the Green Bank Telescope, and the Medicina Radio Astronomical Station.

But the event doesn't end there. The decoded message will be made available to the public, sparking a worldwide exercise in decoding and comprehension. In addition, a Discord server has been established for people to share their insights and findings.

"This experiment is an opportunity for the world to learn how the SETI community...will work together to receive, process, analyze, and understand the meaning of a potential extraterrestrial signal," explained Allen Telescope Array Project Scientist Dr. Wael Farah. He emphasized the interdisciplinary nature of the endeavor, pointing out that communication with potential extraterrestrial entities goes beyond mere astronomy.

This project presents a fresh approach to understanding our place in the universe. It invites a global community to share the thrilling possibility of alien communication, enhancing our understanding of how such a scenario may play out. With 'A Sign in Space,' SETI is taking the first steps toward preparing humanity for the potential of extraterrestrial contact.

Broadcast times for the transmission are as follows: London - 8:00 pm on May 24; Sydney - 5:00 am on May 25; New York - 3:00 pm on May 24; Beijing - 3:00 am on May 25

The ESA's ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) will propel the radio message toward Earth. The data will be made publicly accessible after the message is received by the three radio astronomy observatories, including the SETI Institute's Allen Telescope Array (ATA) in California.

Zoom-based discussions will be held, inviting scientists and members of the public worldwide to share their thoughts and findings as the project progresses. 'A Sign in Space' is a unique and creative experiment that promises to reshape our understanding of the universe and our place within it.

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