- Scientists are eagerly awaiting an extraterrestrial response to radio signals beamed into space 40 years ago
It was 40 years ago that two Japanese astronomers, Masaki Morimoto and Hisashi Hirabayashi, sent a radio signal towards a star called Altair, 16.7 light years away.
Do aliens exist?
Using a Stanford University telescope ‘while drunk’, the duo transmitted a message that aimed to show any aliens orbiting the star what Earthlings look like.
Now, a team of astronomers at the University of Hyogo is hopeful they will finally get the response that they have been waiting for – and prove that alien life exists.
They’re positioning a vast radio telescope in the city of Saku to receive a reply from any planets orbiting Altair, one of the brightest stars in the night’s sky.
Tuesday (August 22) has been deemed the most likely date for a response, although it’s unclear how realistic the team’s expectations are of actually receiving a reply.
Since 40 years ago
The original radio signal was transmitted by Morimoto and Hirabayashi from Stanford on August 15, 1983, and represented 13 drawings, according to Japanese newspaper The Asahi Shimbun.
These 13 drawings – decoded into signals and sent akin to information in an email – depict the evolution of life on Earth, from unicellular organisms to fish, a lizard, an ape and a family of humans.
The crude sketches include what appears to be a fish climbing from the water on to land – an early step in human evolution – one human waving, and, bizarrely, the word ‘toast’.
Four decades later, a team led by Shinya Narusawa at the University of Hyogo are using an antenna over 200 feet (64 metres) in diameter called Usuda Deep Space Center in Saku, in the hope of detecting a reply.
According to The Asahi Shimbun, August 22 was deemed the most likely date for a response as it is the seventh day of the seventh lunar month of the traditional Japanese lunisolar calendar.
Narusawa has pointed out that exoplanets – planets outside our solar system – are being discovered all the time and billions more are thought to exist.