A new project aims to help prepare humanity for the day — should it ever come — that we make contact with intelligent aliens.
At 3 p.m. EDT (1900 GMT) on Wednesday (May 24), Europe's Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) Mars probe will send a coded message that will be received by three big radio telescopes here on Earth.
Scientists around the world — and interested members of the public — will then attempt to decode the missive, as part of an ambitious, multiweek project called A Sign in Space.
"This experiment is an opportunity for the world to learn how the SETI [search for extraterrestrial intelligence] community, in all its diversity, will work together to receive, process, analyze and understand the meaning of a potential extraterrestrial signal," Wael Farah, project scientist for the Allen Telescope Array (ATA), a network of dishes in Northern California run by the nonprofit SETI Institute, said in a statement.
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