New message to extraterrestrials will be reflected on Earth in danger of climate crisis

A radio signal designed to bring Earththe climate crisis for extraterrestrial life will be transmitted to the TRAPPIST-1 planetary system in october.

The message was devised by METI International, a group of scientists, sociologists, historians, anthropologists and artists who came together with the common belief that humanity would benefit from broadcasting messages to the stars rather than just waiting to receive a message from extraterrestrials. (METI stands for Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence, as opposed to SETIthe most passive search for extraterrestrial intelligence.) Goonhilly Satellite Earth Station in Cornwall, UK, will broadcast the climate change message on October 4 to coincide with the start of world space weekwhich this year has the theme “Space and sustainability”.

“All extraterrestrials receiving our message will not be surprised to hear about our climate crisis,” said Douglas Vakoch, president of METI International, told “They’ve had decades to observe our plight from afar.”

Related: What messages have we sent to the extraterrestrials?

Whether the extraterrestrials already know us or not, it will be difficult to successfully communicate with them. Extraterrestrial life will not know our languages ​​or understand our culture, and may even interpret the universe around them differently than we do.

“The great challenge of interstellar communication is to establish common ground,” Vakoch said. To solve this problem, Goonhilly’s post will start with the periodic table of elements. Since the chemical elements are universal, any scientifically informed extraterrestrial should recognize the periodic table, argued METI International. This content would create common ground for the message to then describe some of the environmental challenges we face here on Earth.

The TRAPPIST-1 system is 39 light years away, so if someone detects a message there, we shouldn’t expect a response for at least 78 years. However, it is likely that technologically advanced extraterrestrial life will be much older than us humans, since the universe is 13.8 billion years old and we’re just newcomers to the scene.

Artist’s representations of the seven planets of the TRAPPIST-1 system. (Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

The authors of the message hope that this age gap could offer hope to humans facing the climate crisis. If an alien species has managed to survive perhaps millions or even billions of years, experts assume that it will long ago have solved any climate problems it might have faced and would now exist in a society. steady. Hearing from such extraterrestrials could give us confidence that we can solve our own climate problems. Additionally, Vakoch said he thinks they might be intrigued to hear about a younger species — us — going through a stage in their development that distant alien ancestors may have also gone through.

“By giving extraterrestrials a glimpse into the mind of a species that is uncertain about its future, but always willing to reach out, we can offer unique insights to a civilization that has long since left behind a such instability and uncertainty,” Vakoch said. . “Our candid self-reflection may be intriguing enough to elicit a response.”

The environmental theme will be portrayed in the message through music as well as scientific information. METI International has partnered with the Stihia Music Festival in Uzbekistan, a non-profit project to raise awareness of drying up of the Aral Sea, which local communities depend on for fishing. Festival organizers curate the musical choices in the message, which include tracks such as “Beauty of the Earth” by Soviet electronic music pioneer Eduard Artemyev, “Through the Asteroid Belt” by The Comet is Coming and a selection of tracks of artists playing festival, which will be held from May 6 to 8.

Vakoch admitted that the music might be the hardest part of the message for extraterrestrials to interpret, as well as being difficult to encode into the message in high fidelity. Nonetheless, he said he suspects “the musical selections…may be the parts of the message that are most likely to prompt extraterrestrial recipients to say ‘tell us more'”.

The message to be transmitted from Goonhilly Earth Station in October 2022 includes a representation of the Periodic Table of the Elements showing the chemical elements ordered according to their atomic numbers and encoded in a binary format. (Image credit: Douglas Vakoch/METI International)

This year’s broadcast will be the second interstellar message transmitted by METI International; the the first was the Sónar Calling message in 2018, sent in collaboration with the Sónar music festival in Barcelona. Other notable interstellar transmissions include Frank Drake’s famous Arecibo message sent in 1974 and four messages transmitted into space from the Evpatoria radio telescope in Crimea by the late Russian radio astronomer Alexander Zaitsev.

Some SETI experts actively condemn sending messages to extraterrestrial life. Many researchers view such communications as unauthorized diplomacy that could potentially pose a danger to humans, as we cannot predict what the consequences of contact with technological extraterrestrials would be for our society.

If one wants to send a message, the TRAPPIST-1 system is a good choice, as it is home to seven rocky worlds orbiting a red dwarf star. Several of the planets in the system may be habitable, with planet ‘e’ being the most promising to sustain life as we know it.

However, METI International is unlikely to hit land anytime soon. “If we get a response from TRAPPIST-1, we’ll know the universe is teeming with intelligent life,” Vakoch said. “More realistically, we may need to repeat transmissions like TRAPPIST-1’s to hundreds, thousands, or even millions of stars before we reach one that is inhabited by radio astronomers.”

Follow Keith Cooper on Twitter @21stCenturySETI. follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

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