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24th May 2023

An alien message will be sent from Mars to Earth today

Steve Hopkins

‘A profoundly transformational experience for all humankind’

Earth is set to receive its first ‘alien’ message from Mars today when the SETI Institute beams an “encoded” signal from a craft orbiting Mars to three telescopes on our planet.

According to researchers from the non-profit, the purpose of the exercise is to prepare scientists for the “profoundly transformational experience for all humankind” when aliens do get in touch.

Key details of the message – like the signal and what it will include – are being kept secret, but not for long.

The encoded transmission will be shared with the public so they can help decode it.

The European Space Agency’s Mars orbiter will transmit the message at 3 pm ET. It will reach Earth 16 minutes later – after travelling 180 million miles through space.

The signal will be sent to Earth by ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) studying Mars’ atmosphere since 2016.

Daniela dePaulis, the visionary artist behind the A Sign in Space project, said in a statement: “Throughout history, humanity has searched for meaning in powerful and transformative phenomena.

“Receiving a message from an extraterrestrial civilisation would be a profoundly transformational experience for all humankind.

“A Sign in Space offers the unprecedented opportunity to tangibly rehearse and prepare for this scenario through global collaboration, fostering an open-ended search for meaning across all cultures and disciplines.”

The SETI Institute is a research and education organisation formed in 1984. Its mission is to explore, understand, and explain the origin and nature of life in the universe. SETI stands for the “search for extraterrestrial intelligence”.

A Sign in Space is to be the first project to send a message from space to Earth. Other attempts have been made to send signals into space.

The Allen Telescope Array (ATA), Robert C. Byrd at the Green Bank Observatory (GBT) in West Virginia and the Medicina Radio Astronomical Station in northern Italy will work together to collect the signal from Mars.

Once SETI captures the signal, teams will store the processed data in collaboration with Open Data Archive and Filecoin, a decentralised storage network.

SETI will then host a social media live stream with key members of the team, to help get the public interested.

The A Sign in Space team will also host a series of Zoom-based discussions open to the public around topics that consider the societal implications of detecting a signal from an extraterrestrial civilisation.

They are due to take six to eight weeks after the message transmission.

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