Astronomers from the Active SETI project sent a signal about the presence of an intelligent life on Earth towards the potentially inhabited planet GJ 273b in the constellation of Lesser Dog, remote from us only 12 light years.
“This is the first example of what we will probably have to do hundreds, thousands or even millions of times before we get a response.” For me, the great success will be if in 25 years someone remembers our initiative and will observe the response If this happens, we will forever change the approaches that are being used today to search for extraterrestrial life, “said Dough Vakoch, president of Active SETI.
For more than half a century, astronomers from the SETI Extraterrestrial Intelligence Research Institute in the US and their colleagues around the world are trying to find life outside Earth listening to radio signals coming from various parts of the galaxy. While reasonable or unreasonable life was not found, this task, according to NASA and SETI representatives, can be solved very soon – in the next 10-20 years.
For all 56 years of work, the astronomers of SETI have not been able to find unambiguous traces of extraterrestrial civilizations for one small and contradictory exception. This role is claimed by the so-called “Wow!” Signal, caught by the radio telescope “Big Ear” in 1977. In subsequent years, astronomers could not re-find the source of this signal in the constellation Sagittarius, which made scientists consider it a reflection of radio waves from the Earth from pieces of space debris.
Constant failures in this direction prompted Vakoch, one of the SETI participants, to try to solve this problem by “method by contradiction” and organize a project METI or Active SETI. Within its framework, scientists plan to prepare and send into the cosmos special messages about where the Earth is, what people are and how to reach us, guided by the stars and other objects of the Galaxy.
Similar signals have already been sent into space in the past half century towards various stars and galaxies, but Wakoch and his supporters are offering to conduct such communications systematically, directing the most powerful radio antennas of the world towards nearby stars near which potentially inhabited exoplanets were found.
On the one hand, this idea attracted a lot of supporters both among scientists and lay people, and on the other – it was criticized by many prominent astronomers, astrobiologists and cosmologists, such as Stephen Hawking and Stephen Dick. Some scientists believe that this is just a useless undertaking, and Hawking and his supporters believe that establishing a connection with other civilizations will end in a catastrophe for humanity.
Nevertheless, criticism did not prevent Wakoch and his associates from sending signals to space. Recently, as Space.com notes, scientists and a number of musicians and other representatives of the art world prepared a radio signal for potential inhabitants of the planet GJ 273b, one of the nearest “neighbors” of the Earth, and sent it into space at the end of October this year with the help of EISCAT radio in Norwegian Tromsø.
Sending a powerful radio signal to this planet, as Vakoch notes, is an absolutely safe thing from the point of view of “planetary defense”, since radio signals and television transmissions from the Earth had to reach it tens years ago. “It is extremely difficult to imagine a highly developed civilization on the GJ 273b, which will be able to fly to Earth and capture it, but it will not catch our old radio signals and will not know about our existence,” the scientist said.
In addition to data on the Earth and other planets of the solar system, this signal includes a special mathematical “music textbook” and three dozen short audioscriptions prepared by METI musicians. In April next year, scientists plan to send an extended version of this message in the direction of GJ 273b, using several radio frequencies at once.