Are You There, Aliens? New Horizons Has A Message For You

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new_horizonsIf you happened to encounter some aliens, what would you say (presuming they can translate/understand your human language)? Maybe the first thing would be, “Please don’t kill me,” but after a while you’d probably have a lot of questions about their civilization and technology, and what took them so long to make contact with humans. NASA has been asking itself the same question, especially as its New Horizons spacecraft prepares to finish studying Pluto next summer and head deeper into space. When it embarks on that journey, it will take with it a message for whomever or whatever it may encounter.

The message will stream to the craft next year, after it wraps up its Pluto mission. The message isn’t exactly something you could stick into a bottle — it’s really a digital record of sounds and images that would give its recipient an indication of what life on planet Earth is like. The information will resemble the Golden Record carried by the Voyager probes which were launched in 1977, and which are currently traveling through interstellar space. Both spacecraft carry messages on 12-inch, gold-plated copper disks. The contents were selected carefully by a committee that included Carl Sagan, and they represent a cultural cross-section of life on Earth: images, sounds, 55 greetings in different languages, and music.