Have a message to convey to the aliens out there? Write one fast as researchers are set to beam selective messages from around the world into space at the speed of light to create a celestial time capsule.
Part of a cultural project titled “A Simple Response to an Elemental Message” – a collaboration between the University of Edinburgh, the Royal Observatory of Edinburgh and the UK Astronomical Technology Centre (UKATC) – dispatches from the public will be converted into radio waves.
The messages will then be broadcast towards the North Star Polaris in autumn 2016, reaching their destination in 434 years.
The interstellar message in a bottle will comprise of people’s responses to a single question: How will our present environmental interactions shape the future?
Within 21 hours of transmission, the signal will have travelled deeper into space than mankind’s first message to the stars – Voyager 1 – which was launched in 1977.
According to the project coordinator Paul Quast from the University of Edinburgh, Polaris was chosen as the destination because of its cultural significance as a reference point for navigators and star gazers.
Researchers will be able to use the responses to gauge if there are significant geographical differences in how people think about the environment and the future of the planet.
“We are at a pivotal point in this planet’s history. Our present ecological decisions will have a massive impact on the future for all Earth’s inhabitants. This project will create a culturally inspired message in a bottle capturing global perspectives that will travel into space for eons,” explained Quast, postgraduate student at Edinburgh College of Art.
The public are invited to visit the official website, https://www.asimpleresponse.org, and leave their contributions to be broadcast into the cosmos.
The website is available in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese. German, Arabic, Russian and Mandarin versions will be available soon.