Berkeley| A team of astrophysicists linked to the University of California, has announced this morning, that one of the radio telescopes they use to search for extraterrestrial intelligence intercepted a transmission which they believe could be a message from an alien life form.
The scientists, directed by Professor Dan Werthimer, are part of the SERENDIP (Search for Extraterrestrial Radio Emissions from Nearby Developed Intelligent Populations) project, a program that attempts to intercept and decode radio transmissions from outer space.
They announced that the Arecibo radio telescope, located in Puerto Rico, received on the afternoon of March 19, a strong narrowband radio signal bearing the expected hallmarks of a non-terrestrial communication, originating from outside the solar system. The message lasted a total of 134 seconds and consisted of a signal of varying intensity, which the scientists converted into a strange alphanumeric code, spelling: 9HY9HY-H1C6N7O8P15-KT61L5-PKT6H9HY8F3.
The scientists say the signal does not resemble any form of communication used on Earth, but they believe it could be some sort of extremely complex extraterrestrial Morse code.
“Some segments of the signal are recurrent, and we believe they could be words or letters” says Professor Werthimer. “We don’t know yet, what the message means, but we are almost certain that it was sent by some form of extraterrestrial intelligence. One segment, which spells “H1C6N7O8P15″, even seems to refer to the atomic numbers of hydrogen (H), carbon (C), nitrogen (N), oxygen (O), and phosphorus (P), the components of DNA. I believe it’s not only a message from an extraterrestrial life form… but it was sent specifically for us!”
This is not the firsts time that a SETI project receives a message form outer space, but this is by far the longest and clearest message ever received. The various SETI programs have found a total of around 400 suspicious signals over the years, but there is not enough data to prove that they come from extraterrestrial intelligence.
The most interesting other case was the Wow! signal, which was a strong narrowband radio signal detected by Jerry R. Ehman on August 15, 1977, while he was working on a SETI project at the Big Ear radio telescope of Ohio State University, then located at Ohio Wesleyan University’s Perkins Observatory in Delaware, Ohio. Unfortunately, it was observed for only a very short time and disappeared before it had been identified.
The scientists are now trying to identify the source of the signal, in order to eventually respond to the message, but it could take months or even years before they are able to locate it.