If we were approached by aliens, what would happen? After a transmission from Mars that was intended to resemble correspondence from an extraterrestrial civilization made its way to Earth, this long-standing question now has at least a partial answer.
The event, which was put on by SETI, a non-profit organization that aims to find extraterrestrial intelligence and learn more about how life started in the universe, is somewhere between an art project and a technical rehearsal. Its purpose is to investigate the process of decoding and interpreting a cosmic intelligent signal and its implications for humanity.
The ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter, a 2016-launched spacecraft that is currently orbiting Mars to study its atmosphere, sent the message out on May 24. Before being successfully detected by three observatories, the transmission travelled across space for 16 minutes: the Medicina Radio Astronomical Station near Bologna, Italy, the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia, and the Allen Telescope Array in Northern California.
When gotten, the crude information containing the message was delivered on the web through Filecoin, a huge decentralized stockpiling organization, to allow everybody an opportunity to unravel it and decipher its importance. The collaborative effort is still going strong after a few days, and a Discord channel for public discussion has been set up.
“I can’t actually express anything about the substance of the message, and we’ll possibly begin giving a few clues assuming we see that individuals truly battle,” said SETI part Daniela de Paulis, the craftsman who made the message, in a telephone interview. ” It will take some time because it requires people with different fields of expertise to work together, which was the project’s real goal: Since a message from an extraterrestrial being would belong to all of humanity, we ought to all be able to help figure out what it means.
Deciphering an alien transmission
De Paulis, who is likewise an authorized radio administrator, began chipping away at the task, called “A Sign in Space,” in 2021.
“I was working with space experts, anthropologists and different researchers, it was an extremely interdisciplinary gathering, and we likewise had specialists from various fields,” she said. ” Every month, we got together to talk about what we might get from an extraterrestrial civilization. From that point forward, I restricted the gathering down to five individuals, and afterward at last down to three — in light of the fact that it was truly critical that very few individuals had some awareness of the substance.”
The message, which is a couple of kilobytes in size, must be unraveled from the other crude information got during the transmission, which could have included foundation commotion, telemetry information and false data. This initial phase simultaneously, as indicated by dePaulis, requires unmistakable specialized information. ” However at that point, everybody can participate for the social understanding, which for me is the most intriguing part,” she said.
The event also served as a general rehearsal of all the steps needed to correctly identify and process an intelligent signal from another planet.
De Paulis stated, “It’s not as trivial as people think.” Both NASA and ESA use their own specialized equipment to communicate with their spacecraft in both directions all the time. We had to start over with the transmission, which was actually quite difficult and took almost two years of work.
Wael Farah, a radio astronomer and data analyst at the SETI Institute who attended the event, said that it’s important to spread the word that receiving an alien transmission does not mean you understand what it means, and that even though it would be easy to identify an intelligent signal, the process would still be laborious.
He stated, “There are a whole series of rigorous tests that might take months.” It’s not like in the movie “Contact,” where Jodie Foster picks up something while wearing headphones. We don’t want to whine.
The test involved three telescopes, and one of the checks would be to make sure that the transmission doesn’t come from a human spacecraft and can be received in the same way by all of them. However, the event also accurately simulates the fact that SETI would not be responsible for deciphering the message but rather for pointing out how it was received.
According to Farrah, “I don’t really care what the signal contains from the perspective of a radio astronomer; what I’m interested in is to pick up a signal that does not look natural.”
The examination, which is accepted to be the first of its sort, has a legitimate home at SETI, which was established in 1985 and has been wanting to get a message from E.T. from that point onward. In any case, neither SETI nor some other association on Earth has yet gotten any canny sign from the stars.
Among SETI’s unique legal administrators was Plain Drake, an American astrophysicist who achieved the talk extraterrestrial life into the standard and co-planned the plaques that were on board the Trailblazer 10 and Trailblazer 11 tests, sent into space by NASA in 1972 and 1973. They had a map of the solar system and a pictorial message for extraterrestrials that included naked male and female human bodies.
Drake also wrote a radio interstellar message in 1974, which was sent on April 16, 1974, to a Messier 13 star cluster during a ceremony to celebrate the completion of improvements to the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico.
The message, which contained only 1,679 pieces of information, included data about fundamental numbers, synthetic mixtures, human DNA and the Arecibo telescope itself, yet it was expected more as a proof of idea than a genuine endeavor to contact outsiders, much along these lines as last week’s occasion.
Unraveling meaning in ‘extraterrestrial’ data
Participating in the global effort to decode the transmission is Neill Sanders from the British amateur astronomy group Go Stargazing. He stated that they have already reached a milestone in the initial, disentangling phase of the process.
“The transmission’s hidden message has been discovered. However, the difficulty right now is ensuring that the information obtained is accurate,” he stated.
He added that the situation in which an attempt is made to verify accuracy is one that is really interesting because the sender of any message, in this case the Trace Gas Orbiter probe orbiting Mars, would want to make sure the recipient does not misinterpret the message due to mistakes made during transmission or processing.
A more delicate phase of the process begins now that the layers have been removed and the message has been revealed. We got to the information pretty soon, yet as to unraveling the message and what it implies, that could take significantly longer. I believe they have posed a significant obstacle.