Even if science confirmed the existence of intelligent life on other planets, the distances between us would preclude visits and active two-way communication. Still, it would be nice to hear from another world, to confirm scientifically that we are not alone. Many scientists agree and that is why some are taking a proactive approach to confirming intelligent life on other worlds.
Enter the Cosmic Call project. The Cosmic Call is a 400,000 bits long message that has been transmitted to solar systems with suns similar to our own. The first transmission went out ten years ago to stars in the Summer Cross, visible in the Northern Hemisphere.
Astronomers “fired” the message with a 70m (230 ft) Ukrainian antenna equipped with a 150 kW transmitter broadcasting at 5 GHz (6 cm). Any civilization within 100 light-years with access to a radio-telescope covering an area up to one squared-kilometer will be able to receive the message. Sounds exciting, eh?
What makes the Cosmic Call project even more exciting is that a few years after the first Call was first fired in 1999, astronomers discovered that a targeted star systems called HD190360 (located at right ascension 20h 03m 37s and declination 29h 53m 48) harbors two planets.
Planet HD190360A is somewhat similar to our own earth. It is slightly larger (1.5 times the mass of the earth) and substantially further from its sun than our earth (3.92 Astronomical Units [earth is 1 AU]). The other planet, HD190360B is smaller than our earth (.057 times smaller) and closer to its sun (0.128 AU).
While it seems like planet A is too far from its sun to harbor life (like Mars), and planet B is too close to its sun to harbor life (like Mercury), perhaps there is an undiscovered planet C somewhere in the middle that is roughly the same size and distance as our earth. If a habitable planet exists then my guess is that it is a telestial world going through the same stages of mortality as our world.
Wouldn’t it be cool to make contact with them, or them with us? Well, HD190360 is 58.1 light years distance from our earth, so a radio message (which travels much slower than the speed of light) is going to take a long time to reach its destination.
There is one other issue to be concerned about. If they receive the Cosmic Call, are they going to understand it? You decide. Here is the message, created by Canadian physicists Dutil and Dumas.
Personally I think the Call looks like text from a "buggy", old fashioned, dot matrix printer, but who knows? It might make sense to someone at HD190360. If it does and they send a reply, we won't be around to receive it (we're talking really bad snail mail, friends).
The star map at the top shows where to find HD190360 in the constellation Cygnus (aka “Summer Cross”).