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HindustanTimes Thu,21 Aug 2014

Life and Universe

Now, send messages to aliens
PTI
Washington, June 17, 2013
First Published: 23:22 IST(17/6/2013)
Last Updated: 02:45 IST(18/6/2013)

A unique new project is asking people around the world with an internet connection to help beam messages into outer space in an attempt to make our presence in the universe known to intelligent alien life out there.

The Lone Signal project, by a group of scientists, businessmen and entrepreneurs, which goes live late on Monday will mark humanity's first-ever attempt to send continuous messages to extraterrestrial intelligence.

Scientists working with Lone Signal have picked out a particular spot in space. All messages sent through the project's network will be transmitted to a star system called Gliese 526, which is located about 17.6 light-years from Earth, SPACE.com reported.

Researchers haven't found any planets orbiting the red dwarf star yet. But Gliese 526 is a good candidate for harbouring life, having been identified in the Catalog of Nearby Habitable Systems, said Lone Signal chief science officer Jacob Haqq-Misra.

Haqq-Misra and his team might decide to move the signal to a different star system in the future.

"We want it to be fun, but we're also looking at long-term strategy. We're targeting the most logical, nearest stars now," Lone Signal co-founder Pierre Fabre said.

Upon its launch, Lone Signal operators will start sending messages to Gliese 526 using the Jamesburg Earth Station, a central California radio dish built in 1968.

Lone Signal has a 30-year lease with the antenna, but company officials hope the project could be extended and expanded in the future.

Television waves, radio waves and other electromagnetic beams are constantly being emitted by devices across the globe.

These signals, however, are much weaker and less distinct than the ones that Lone Signal will send out, officials of the project said.

The Jamesburg Earth Station will emit multiple beams aimed at Gliese 526.

One beam carries a repeating "hailing message" developed by astronomer Michael Busch, which explains Earth's position in the universe, outlines the elements of the periodic table and gives a definition of the hydrogen atom in binary code.

If a group of aliens on a planet orbiting Gliese 526 had an instrument equivalent to California's Allen Telescope Array, which is used by the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute here on Earth, they would be able to detect, record and possibly decode the message, officials said.

"It's important that it is feasible for anyone to take part in this experiment because it is so unique. It's never been that case that anyone on the face of the Earth can commune with the cosmos, and we are opening up that portal to the masses," Lone Signal chief marketing officer Ernesto Qualizza said.


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