NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory developed an updated binary message to be sent into space in search of potential extraterrestrial life.
The message, which must be approved by NASA first, is part of the Lighthouse in the Galaxy (BITG) project.
The project consists of using a 500-meter aperture spherical radio telescope (FAST) in China and the SETI Institute’s Allen Telescope Array in California to send a 13-part message that has approximately 204,000 effective binary digits, or 25,500 bytes.
The message has a basic introduction to math, the chemical makeup of humans, a map of the Earth, and even our exact location in the Milky Way.
For the first time ever, a researcher at NASA received support from the space agency to design a message intended for extraterrestrial intelligence.
— daniel (@DMOberhaus) March 30, 2022
“The proposed message includes basic mathematical and physical concepts to establish a means of universal communication, followed by information on the biochemical composition of life on Earth, the position of the Solar System in the Milky Way with respect to known globular clusters, as well as digitized representations of the Solar System and the Earth’s surface,” said Jonathan Jiang, director of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Sending a message in search of extraterrestrial life was a debate within the scientific community with many voices in favor and others against.
The late scientist Stephen Hawking was one of the opponents of the idea. In 2015, the Breakthrough Listen project was launched with the aim of detecting possible extraterrestrial communications.
Faced with the news, Hawking said: “If you look in history, the encounter between civilizations with advanced technology against primitive technology turned out badly for the less advanced.”
He added: “The aliens could see us as valuable as a bacterium.”
Jamilah Hah, a member of the BITG project, told Newsweel: “Any species capable of understanding and interpreting our message will be just as or more cautious about our existence.”