Tomorrow, an ‘alien message’ will be beamed to Earth. You could be the one to decode it

An institute searching for aliens has organised a Solar System wide ‘fire drill’ to get the public engaged in decoding potential alien signals.

The secret radio message will be beamed from Mars to Earth tomorrow. Although it’s not aliens, the project from the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute could be the next best thing.

“Throughout history, humanity has searched for meaning in powerful and transformative phenomena,” said Daniela de Paulis, the artist behind the project.

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

The project – called ‘A Sign in Space’ – brings together researchers, artists and the public in what the team have called a ‘global theatre’.

“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,” de Paulis adds.

The message (encoded by de Paulis and her team) will be transmitted by the ESA ExoMars Orbiter which circles Mars on May 24 at 19:00 UTC (See box for local times below).

Just 16 minutes later it will arrive on Earth, being detected by radio telescopes such as the Allen Telescope Array, the Green Bank Telescope and the Medicina Radio Astronomical Station. You can watch a livestream of the event below. 

Then it’s time for the public to get involved and start to decode the alien message. There’s been a Discord server set up for people to discuss any findings.

“This experiment is an opportunity for the world to learn how the SETI community, in all its diversity, will work together to receive, process, analyse, and understand the meaning of a potential extraterrestrial signal,” said Allen Telescope Array Project Scientist Dr Wael Farah.

“More than astronomy, communicating with ET will require a breadth of knowledge. With ‘A Sign in Space’, we hope to make the initial steps towards bringing a community together to meet this challenge.”

Local times for transmission:

London – 8:00pm 24 May

Sydney – 5:00am 25 May

New York – 3:00pm 24 May

Beijing – 3:00am 25th May

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