In an attempt to establish communication with any extraterrestrial civilizations out there, a team of scientists have set out to send messages into space. The team also plans to study the new discovery of a planet close to Proxima b – the nearest star to the Sun.
The team was named Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence (METI), and they intend to start sending messages as early as 2018. However, their current topic for discussion is what the messages should say. On the other hand, there are a lot of those who think that no one has the right to speak on behalf of the planet and oppose any type of communication with alien life.
The first message sent into space was that in 1974 by the Arecibo radio telescope to the globular star cluster M13 In 1974. Many may recall the famous Golden Record, which was sent on the Voyager spacecraft for any alien to find it in 1977. But, these have been just symbolic attempts as there’s very little chance of aliens noticing a brief and narrowly focused signal, or a small craft in the enormity of space.
What METI is trying to develop is a more methodical approach, the first step being fundraising for a powerful transmitter, which would send long signals with as much power as can be gathered. Two conferences have already been scheduled for 2017, when the subject of the messages as well as their destination will be discussed.
One of the first destinations considered for contact is Proxima b due to the fact that it’s the closest possibly inhabited world to our own. As described in METI’s strategic plan, “The project will test the hypothesis that a powerful, intentional, information-rich signal from Earth may elicit a response from extraterrestrial intelligence, even if they already know of our existence from accidental leakage radiation.”
But, the plan comes with a number of downsides. Stephen Hawking, for instance, is just one of those who opposed the idea along with former Nature editor Mark Buchanan, who warned of the danger of contacting other civilizations that are possibly far more technically advanced than us.
According to METI president Douglas A. Vakoch , “The risk we most often hear about – alien invasion – is simply not plausible. Any civilization slightly more advanced than we are could already detect our presence through accidental electromagnetic radiation. Only a virtual twin of modern terrestrial technology would pick up information-rich beacons but be blind to the BBC at interstellar distances. If we are in danger of an alien invasion, it’s too late.”
He further adds that doing nothing may be as dangerous as sending a signal, especially as we lack a system of collective decision making regarding such issues, “Decisions about allocating time for METI at publicly funded observatories should rely on the same procedure used for competing experiments,” he wrote.
METI will however persist in their plans of establishing communication with alien intelligence, something that could hypothetically have an impact on the entire planet.