A new study published in the journal Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific suggests alien contact could come as soon as the year 2029.
Earlier this month, a “coherent” radio signal was detected coming from a distant exoplanet, suggesting that there could be exoplanets out there that are habitable for alien life.
Now, a research team of scientists from the University of California claims it is possible that messages beamed to Voyager 1, Voyager 2, , Pioneer 10, Pioneer 11, and New Horizons that have reached nearby stars could result in us getting a message back from aliens.
“These spacecraft have communicated with the Deep Station Network (DSN) radio antennas in order to download scientific data and telemetry data. Outward transmissions from DSN travel to the spacecraft and beyond into interstellar space. These transmissions have encountered and will encounter other stars, introducing the possibility that intelligent life in other solar systems will encounter our terrestrial transmissions,” the study reads.
Popular Science explains…
The DSN signals don’t magically stop at the spacecraft they’re targeting: They continue into interstellar space where they eventually reach other stars. But electromagnetic waves like radio transmissions and light can only travel so fast—that’s why we use light-years to measure distances across the universe. The researchers used this law of physics to estimate how long it will take for DSN signals to reach nearby stars, and for alien life to return the message.
The process revealed several insights. For example, according to their calculations, a signal sent to Pioneer 10 reached a dead star known as a white dwarf around 27 light-years away in 2002. The study team estimates a return message from any alien life near this dead star could reach us as soon as 2029, but no earlier.
Let’s just hope that if any aliens did get our signals they don’t respond by eating, enslaving or attacking us, giving us diseases, performing a catastrophic physics experiment, or unleashing unfriendly artificial intelligence on us as Shawn Domagal-Goldman of NASA’s Planetary Science Division and his colleagues suggested they could do in a 2011 report.