Contacting E.T: The ESA Just Sent Thousands of Messages Into Deep Space

The 14-minute digital transmission could be received by a host of alien worlds.

10. 13. 16 by June Javelosa
Image by Hubble

Straight Outta Cebreros

Today, the European Space Agency (ESA) beamed over 3,000 messages into deep space through a crowdsourced initiative titled “A Simple Response to an Elemental Message.”

Messages answering the question “How will our present environmental interactions shape the future?” were collected from all over the world and converted into a 14-minute digital transmission, which has now been beamed to the North Star using the ESA’s powerful radio telescope in Cebreros.

The project was started by Irish contemporary artist Paul Quast in collaboration with the UK Astronomy Technology Centre, the ESA, and the University of Edinburgh, as well as researchers from Johns Hopkins University and the European Southern Observatory.

Image Credit: ESA/ Twitter

You’re Not The Boss Of Us, Stephen Hawking

While we have yet to see evidence of life outside of our planet, some scientists, including Stephen Hawking, have expressed apprehension about our attempts to contact extra terrestrials. If science fiction is anything to go by, this move may just lead to an alien invasion.


“If aliens visit us, the outcome would be much as when Columbus landed in America, which didn’t turn out well for the Native Americans,” says Hawking. “We only have to look at ourselves to see how intelligent life might develop into something we wouldn’t want to meet.”

The ESA seems to view this exercise as more a symbolic gesture than a direct effort to contact alien life, though. As detailed in their call for participation back in July, it’s a move that they hope contributes to “ongoing dialogue concerning how our civilisation collectively perceives its role within shaping the future of the environment and establish a means by which we may collectively analyse these perspectives for cross-cultural universals within this single, global human community.”

Let’s just hope any dialogues the move may spur from the universal community are as benign.

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