Is it time we sent a new version of the Arecibo message ?
By T.K. Randall
March 26, 2022 · 3 comments
The original message was sent by the now-defunct Arecibo radio telescope. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 4.0 JidoBG
Scientists at JPL have been planning to send a new message into space for intelligent aliens to pick up.
Put together by a group of scientists including Dr Frank Drake and astronomer Carl Sagan, the original Arecibo message contained information about the Earth, the solar system and the human race.
Divided up into seven sections, the data included the numbers one to ten, the atomic numbers of several common elements, the number of nucleotides in DNA, a diagram of the solar system and a graphical representation of a human, among other things.
It was broadcast via frequency modulated radio waves towards M13 - a globular star cluster situated 25,000 light years away - to mark the remodelling of the Arecibo radio telescope.
Despite being sent almost 50 years ago, given the extreme distances involved and the fact that the signal is limited by the speed of light, the message is still only 0.2% of the way to its target.
Now though, a team of JPL scientists has proposed sending a new, updated version of the message containing more detailed information about the Earth, our understanding of physics and mathematics, the biochemical composition of life and even an invite to send a response.
The target this time is likely to be a potentially inhabited star cluster around 6,000 light years away.
While closer than M13, the signal would still take thousands of years to arrive, followed by the same amount of time for an answer to be received (if one is sent at all.)
If it helps to answer the question "are we alone?", however, the wait will be well worth it.
| Comments (3)
Please Login or Register to post a comment.