ARE WE ALONE in the universe? Is there life on other planets? Are there other civilisations in our galaxy?
How life began, and whether it exists elsewhere, is a fascinating question which we still cannot answer. Of the eight planets in our Solar System, only one – Earth – has life, as far as we know. But there are 400 million other suns in our galaxy, and billions of galaxies in the universe – so the chances are high that life exists elsewhere, and that intelligence and civilisation will have arisen more than once.
Since 1995, more than 350 planets have been discovered orbiting other stars. Known as exoplanets, they vary greatly in size and composition.
At COSMOS magazine, we thought it would be a cool way to celebrate National Science Week in Australia – and the International Year of Astronomy – by sending a message to a potentially habitable planet outside the Solar System.
Thanks to the support of Australia’s Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research, the CSIRO and NASA, and a bunch of other really helpful people, messages of up to 160 characters in length were collected on this site. They were then transmitted to the closest Earth-like planet that might harbour life: Gliese 581d, which is about 20.3 light-years away and practically in our backyard (in astronomical terms).
The messages were collected until the end of Science Week, and then transmitted by NASA to Gliese 581d using the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex in Tidbinbilla, Australia.
Will we get an answer? No-one really knows. So why not send a message and find out?
Thanks for taking part in HELLO FROM EARTH. Come to the site to check out the messages others have sent. And we’ll keep you posted on developments.