The movie Contact was perhaps the best-envisioned scenario of what it might be like here on Earth if one day the messages we've pumped into space for decades came back with an intelligent answer. And while the rest of the film's plot veers into sci-fantasy territory, the story nevertheless highlights our ongoing fascination with finding out if anyone else is out there. A group now plans to attack the process of sending messages into space more aggressively by crowdsourcing the effort.
Led by Dr. Jacob Haqq-Misra, a research scientist at the Blue Marble Space Institute of Science, Lone Signal is an effort to collect short Twitter-style messages from people around the world and send them into space in hopes of feedback from intelligent life. The team will broadcast two signals, a continuous wave (CW) signal, containing general information about our planet and solar system, and a secondary signal embedded in the first which will contain messages from the people of Earth. The messages will be directed toward the star system known as Gliese 526, a system designated as an area of space containing potentially habitable exoplanets.
To broadcast the messages, the team plans to use the Jamesburg Earth Station in California, the very same facility that was used to transmit images of Neil Armstrong on the Moon back in the '60s. The company's website offers little in the way of details, but according to an interview with Space.com, the team plans to allow anyone to send one text message for free, with additional text-plus-photo transmissions priced at 99 cents.
Interestingly, rather than cater to the geek crowd, the effort seems to be geared toward the mainstream, based on the project's promotion clip which features a couple of familiar models and actors. You can see the Jamesburg Earth Station being tested out, a personal explanation of the project from Dr. Haqq-Misra, and the Lone Signal promotion clip in the videos below.