Interstellar messaging project aims to contact extraterrestrial life (PHOTOS)
The organization Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence International (METI) has designs on becoming the world leader in interstellar messaging, and plans to send their first radio or laser transmission into space by the end of 2018.
According to the group, METI will “test the hypothesis that a powerful, intentional, information-rich signal from Earth may elicit a response from extraterrestrial intelligence,” even if they are already aware of our existence.
METI is working on the basis that existing facilities such as the Arecibo observatory, a giant radio telescope in Puerto Rico, will be open to them to send alien friendly frequencies into space.
“If we want to start an exchange over the course of many generations, we want to learn and share information,” METI President Douglas Vakoch told The Mercury News.
Based out of San Francisco, the non-profit group issued a blueprint in 2015 with echoes of a shelved 1970s NASA project dubbed ‘Project Cyclops.’ A 1971 collaborative design study for the project by Stanford University and NASA experts discussed possible ways to make contact with extraterrestrials.
The project included reasons for seeking out alien life, such as sating humanity’s appetite for discovery and “unravelling the evolution of the physical universe.” Suggested ways to facilitate intergalactic meetings included electromagnetic wave transmissions and interstellar probes.
The study, however, highlighted that “presently known nuclear power sources” would not provide sufficient energy for spacecraft to reach areas outside the solar system and within the lifetime of potential crew members.
According to NASA archives, the eventual plan was to build “1,000 100-meter telescope dishes that could pick up” radio signals from neighboring stars. But it was ultimately shelved because of its whopping $10 billion price tag.
Alien contact fears
The METI International project makes reference to Project Cyclops in its strategic plan for 2015-2018. But the search for ET-like aliens has led some to question whether earthlings are in for a rude awakening.
US physicist Mark Buchanan suggested in August this year that scientists could be searching for trouble. “We have almost zero idea of whether aliens are likely to be dangerous,” Buchanan said in a Nature Physics journal article.
In a Nature journal article defending METI, Vakoch said that it is already “too late” to worry about potentially aggressive otherworldly beings visiting Earth, if indeed there are any out there.
“The risk we most often hear about – alien invasion – is simply not plausible, however,” Vakoch wrote. “Any civilization slightly more advanced than we are could already detect our presence through our accidental electromagnetic radiation.
“If we are in danger of an alien invasion, it’s too late.”
He added that by refraining from sending messages out into space, the world may miss out on opportunities to improve life on Earth.
“Attempting to avoid one risk – letting ET know we’re here – may increase other more hazardous risks, for example, missing guidance that could enhance our own civilization’s sustainability, or averting attacks from alien who would otherwise annihilate us for not reaching out,” Vakoch wrote.