Space

Anybody out there? Musical message beamed to potentially-habitable exoplanet

Anybody out there? Musical mes...
A musical message has been beamed to a potentially-habitable exoplanet nearby, in an attempt to make first contact
A musical message has been beamed to a potentially-habitable exoplanet nearby, in an attempt to make first contact
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A musical message has been beamed to a potentially-habitable exoplanet nearby, in an attempt to make first contact
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A musical message has been beamed to a potentially-habitable exoplanet nearby, in an attempt to make first contact
The Sónar Calling message was transmitted in October, with another to follow in April 2018, and a reply could be received in about 25 years' time
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The Sónar Calling message was transmitted in October, with another to follow in April 2018, and a reply could be received in about 25 years' time

While the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) program is content to scan the skies for signals that might indicate the presence of life on other planets, the related program Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence (METI) aims to take a more active approach. METI and other organizations have now beamed radio transmissions, containing snippets of music, to a potentially-habitable planet about 12 light-years from Earth, in hopes of making first contact.

The target is an exoplanet called GJ273b, orbiting Luyten's Star some 12.4 light-years away. Only discovered in March this year, the world is a "Super Earth" with a mass about three times that of our home planet that orbits well within the habitable zone of its cool red dwarf parent star. Those life-friendly conditions, along with its proximity to Earth, make it a good candidate for sparking up a neighborly chat.

METI, in partnership with the Institute of Space Studies of Catalonia (IEEC) and the Spanish music festival Sónar, transmitted the first radio signals to GJ273b last month. The "Sónar Calling" transmission starts with a tutorial in binary code, designed to instruct any recipients on how to decode the message that follows, which is made up of 33 pieces of music lasting 10 seconds each that were commissioned from a range of artists from the festival's past lineups.

Sónar Calling GJ273b

Using the EISCAT antenna in Norway, the first signal was beamed out on October 16, then repeated on October 17 and 18 to help any listeners correct errors that occur during the 70-trillion-mile journey. The message – which has apparently already hurtled out of the Solar System into interstellar space – is due to arrive at GJ273b in November 2030, and the team says that if there's anyone there, the call could be returned in about 25 years' time. A second transmission is planned to be sent in April 2018.

"We are witnessing an exponential increase in our knowledge of planetary systems in the universe and we now know some 10 exoplanets that could be suitable to host life," says Ignasi Ribas, director of the IEEC. "Of course, we have no clue whether life has thrived on the surface of those planets and if such lifeforms have developed intelligence. But we at IEEC are excited to participate in the experiment of sending an intentional message to the nearby habitable planet GJ273b and wait for a response. If that happened in 25 year's time, it would certainly be mind-boggling."

Dr. Ignasi Ribas (IEEC) - Sónar Calling GJ273b

Of course, this isn't the first message humankind has sent to the stars. Our radio and TV signals have been beaming into space for about 100 years now, but we've also been making more deliberate attempts to broadcast our presence using radio transmissions or with Voyager's iconic Golden Record.

But there's another all-important question: Just because we can, does that mean we should? Scientists like Stephen Hawking have come forward in the past to say that not only should we not be broadcasting our existence to the cosmos, but we should be actively trying to hide it. After all, decades of sci-fi and millennia of human history have taught us that first contact between civilizations doesn't tend to go well.

It's mostly a publicity stunt for a music festival, but METI is dedicated to pinging ET one way or another. Either way, it's too late now: The Sónar Calling message is already zipping towards GJ273b at the speed of light, and all we can do is listen out for a reply in 2042.

Source: Sónar Calling

4 comments
shane61
Can you imagine the confusion of those poor aliens trying to figure out the 'hidden message' in the music? I understand the music festival tie-in but it seems to be a poor first message.
Don Duncan
Some people worry ETs might not be friendly. They should look at us.
Some of us are powerful psychotic monsters who killed 10s of millions of the people who gave us the power, e.g., Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot (who was given refuge by the U.S. and went on TV's "Tom Snyder" to try and raise money to regain power). Remember, TPTB in the US Empire knew Pol Pot murdered millions and ignored it because he was overthrown by the Viet Cong, who they hated for not allowing them to colonize Vietnam. This is the general rule in international politics. And this obscenity is ignored by voters worldwide as they readily self-enslave (vote to support govt.). Therefore, if ET is not hostile and does not use violence against us, we will certainly use violence against ET. What then? Will they just leave and post a warning to others to just stay away? Or destroy the humans? Either way, "we the people" are our own worst enemies and will continue to die until we give up our obsession with initiating violence and assuming it to be superior to reason. 
This is not civil. It is not compatible with being human. It is self-destructive. But it is the worldwide political paradigm. It is the source of all war, all poverty, all domestic unrest. It has to stop if we are ever to become civilized. We are not acting like enlightened beings worthy of sentient inter-species contact. Why would any ET put up with us? 
When the majority stop their worship of violence (govt.) and start respecting each other's rights, self-governing, and voluntarily interacting, then we will be worth associating with. 
Jean Lamb
With our luck, the aliens will be Weezer fans...
PG
We can't even communicate with ourselves,let alone another civilization. Of course,if we do, we'll have to convert them to Christianity and show them how to conquer anyone who doesn't think that way.
So what if our primitive little radio message is not sophisticated enough to be received by their telepathic frequency receivers? It's a HUGE assumption that radio would be the accepted form of communication so until we develop a way of sending messages using gravitic waves or telepathic signals, we dan't stand a hope in hell.