Contact with an extraterrestrial civilisation would be the single biggest news story in human history - but most people won’t hear the news for “weeks, possibly months,” according to a leading researcher from SETI.

SETI, the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence, was founded in 1984.

The project got a massive boost earlier this year with the introduction of the Commensal Open-Source Multimode Interferometric Cluster [COSMIC], a new protocol that enables astronomers to scan up to 37 stars per minute.

The astronomers are looking for “technosignatures,” radio emissions that can’t be explained by any known natural process.

Dr Chenoa Tremblay has been using COSMIC in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. She tells the Daily Star that in the three months the system has been active it hasn’t found anything that couldn’t be ruled out as human-created signals – yet.

Chenoa says it’s “challenging to predict” when first contact with another civilisation might be made but, she says, “with our increased searching capabilities with systems like COSMIC, I hope we can find something in my own lifetime”.

But even when the first signal is detected, it won’t be made public straight away. Not because of any conspiracies, Chenoa explains, but simply because such a massive finding would have to be double-and -triple checked before it’s confirmed.

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