Send an SMS to Space

August 12, 2009 by Dylan Tweney

Hello! R U out there?

Here’s your chance to make first contact with an alien life form, by sending a 160-character text message into outer space.

An Australian science magazine, COSMOS, is working with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory to deliver the messages by beaming them in the direction of Gliese 581D, an exoplanet that scientists think might have a chance of supporting Earth-like life.

To send a message, go to HelloFromEarth.net and enter your message on the form there. You’ll need to register by supplying your name, email, and hometown, and optionally subscribing to the COSMOS email newsletter. Do it before the end of Sunday, August 23, 2009.

On August 24, all the messages received will be bundled into a text file, encoded in binary, and beamed into space from the NASA/CSIRO Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex at Tidbinbilla, near Canberra, which has a 70-meter antenna.

Gliese 581D is 20.3 light-years away, in the constellation of Libra, so it will take a bit more than 20 years for the messages to arrive. As for a response? Well, don’t hold your breath. There’s no guarantee that the aliens will understand SMS abbreviations.

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This site is published by Dylan Tweney, a professional writer and editor, publisher of haiku and SMS information, and a senior editor at Wired.

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