A new project called Signal in Space simulates how Earth will respond to a signal from aliens and invites the public to help decode an extraterrestrial message (roughly)
The "Signal in Space" project simulates the reception and decoding of an extraterrestrial message.
What would happen if we received a message from an alien culture? Danielle de Paulis, a recognized interdisciplinary artist and licensed radio operator who currently serves as a guest artist at the SETI Institute and Green Bank Observatory, gathered a team of experts from around the world, including SETI researchers, space scientists and artists to execute her latest project, "Signal in Space".
The purpose of this activity is to investigate the process of deciphering and interpreting an extraterrestrial message by engaging the worldwide SETI community, professionals from various fields and the general public. This process requires global collaboration, to create a dialogue that will bridge SETI, space exploration and society across many cultures and areas of expertise.
As part of the project, on May 24, 2023, the European Space Agency's Mars Exo Mars Orbiter (TGO) transmitted an encrypted message to Earth to simulate receiving a signal from an extraterrestrial intelligence.
"Throughout history, humanity has sought meaning in powerful and transformative phenomena," said Daniela de Paulis, the artist with the vision behind the Signal in Space project. "Receiving a message from an extraterrestrial culture will be an experience that will cause a profound change in all humans. A signal in space offers an unprecedented opportunity to make a tangible return and prepare for this scenario through international cooperation, and promote an open search for meaning in all cultures and fields."
Three world-class radio astronomy observatories detected the encrypted message: SETI's Allen Telescope Array (ATA), the Robert C. Bird Green Bank (GBT) at the Green Bank Observatory (GBO) and the Medicina Radio Astronomical Station Observatory managed by the Italian National Institute of Astrophysics (INAF). The specific content of the encrypted message, developed by de Paulis and her team, has not yet been made public, to allow the public to contribute to deciphering and interpreting the content.
"This experiment is an opportunity for the world to learn how the SETI community, in all its diversity, will work together to receive, process, analyze and understand the meaning of a potential extraterrestrial signal," said ATA project scientist Dr. Waal Farah. "Beyond astronomy, communication with extraterrestrials will require broad knowledge. Through a signal in space, we hope to take the first steps to gather a community to meet this challenge."
The SETI Institute securely stored the processed data together with FileCoin, the world's largest distributed storage network. This collaboration ensures the preservation and accessibility of the processed data, and their availability for further analysis and decoding.
"We are delighted to participate with SETI in this ground-breaking project," said Stefan Parfat, director of network growth at Labs Protocol, the company behind FileCoin. "Our distributed storage solutions are ideally suited for reliable and secure storage of the large amounts of data created by this project."
Anyone who works on decoding and interpreting the message can talk about the process on the Discord server of a signal in space. You can submit findings, thoughts and artistic and scientific contributions through The dedicated submission form on the project website.