Astronomers will send a message to the most promising for alien contact TRAPPIST-1 star system

The Periodic Table of the Elements and music from a climate change festival are part of a message to be sent to a nearby star system, according to a press release from astronomers from the Messaging Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (METI) project.

The message will be sent to the Aquarius constellation, in which as It turned out, all the planets of the system are close to Earth in density and contain water in different quantities – on some worlds it is up to 5% of the total mass. At the same time, the Earth contains water in an amount of only 0.02% of its mass.

The two planets closest to the star are rocky and surrounded by a dense atmosphere. The third planet of the system, on the contrary, is the easiest. Scientists believe that it is most likely covered by an ocean or a layer of ice, or has an expanded atmosphere.

But the fourth of the exoplanets is most similar to the Earth in density and other parameters. According to scientists, it has more iron in its core and may not have a dense atmosphere.

So far, scientists have managed to determine only the “physical data” of the exoplanets in the Trappist-1 system which is 40 light-years away. How habitable they are and whether there is life on them remains a mystery.

If potential aliens in the constellation of Aquarius will ever receive our message, any answer to it will be received in about 80 years.

Unlike the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) program, designed to search for extraterrestrial civilizations, METI is aimed at transmitting messages to potential “aliens”. So in 2017, the organization transmitted a radio signal from the Norwegian city of Tromso, which also included several musical samples and a basic course in geometry.

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In search of alien life

And now, five years later, the organization intends to send a message to the TRAPPIST-1 star system, located at a distance of about 39 light years from Earth. This ecosystem consists of seven planets, of which at least three of them are in the so-called Goldilok zone – the region around the star where the presence of liquid water, which, as is known, can serve as a source of life, is most likely to be present.

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To achieve this task, very powerful transmitters are needed, capable of sending signals over great distances. To this end, METI astronomers will use the Goonhilly Satellite Earth Station in Cornwall, UK.

To ensure that the message is received in its entirety, it will be transmitted in four different phases on the same frequency. To distinguish that the signal is artificial, it will start with a series of bursts that do not occur in natural radio waves, according to New Scientist.

The message

Douglas Vakoch, president of METI, stated that the transmission would be made up of a series of short pulses sent in four different phases of the same frequency. In order to identify the signal as artificial, it will begin with a series of bursts never seen before in natural radio waves. Then the message will describe simple calculations, set out the details of Mendeleev’s periodic table of chemical elements and relay images of the atomic structure, after which several musical compositions will be included.

All this is being done to explain in universal chemical terms the ecological crisis that is approaching us. To add redundancy to the transmitted data, music is included in the message. Among them will be short clips from the “Elements” music festival, which is held annually to draw attention to the ecological catastrophe of the Aral Sea, which has almost dried up in recent decades, and a desert has appeared in its place.

If potential aliens in the constellation Aquarius still receive the human message and decide to respond to it, then the answer will arrive in approximately 80 years. 

In the future, METI plans to send a similar message to exoplanet K2-18b, located about 124 light-years from Earth.


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