35 years after a mysterious radio signal was received on Earth, bearing characteristics that set it distinctly apart from the background noise of outer space, humanity will offer a reply. And you can contribute to that cosmic reply via Twitter: “All tweets composed between 8 p.m. EDT Friday (June 29) and 3 a.m. EDT Saturday (June 30) tagged with the hashtag #ChasingUFOs will be rolled into a single message, according to the National Geographic Channel…” The Aercibo Observatory will work to encrypt the messages, creating a complex but noticeable pattern that could easily be recognized as separate from random, natural noise.
What’s the Big Idea?
In 1977, the Big Ear radio observatory at Ohio State University picked up an intense 72-second radio transmission coming from the direction of the constellation Sagittarius. While the signal was 30 times more powerful than ambient radiation from deep space, astronomers have never detected a repeat transmission from the same spot in the sky. But if aliens did send the signal, they are likely to be an extremely advanced civilization. “Scientists say the signal would have required a 2.2 gigawatt transmitter, vastly more powerful than any existing terrestrial radio station.”