Sending a signal into the future

On 15 May, ESA’s 35m deep-space tracking station located at Cebreros, 77 kms west of Madrid, Spain, transmitted a 35-MB archive file containing the Top 10 video selfies from the Rosetta Wake Up campaign into space. (If you’d like, you can download the actual file that was transmitted here.)

See A light-speed voyage to the future for background.

Colegio Peñaluenga students and teachers at ESAC, just after they shouted out the 'send' command to the Estrack control room at ESOC to send a signal into the future. Credit: ESA

Colegio Peñaluenga students and teachers at ESAC, just after they shouted out the ‘send’ command to the Estrack control room at ESOC to send a signal into the future. Credit: ESA

Since they’re located in Spain – and they were one of our Top 10 Wake Up Rosetta participants – we’ve invited a group of students from Colegio Público (Peñaluenga) De El Castillo De Las Guardas, near Seville, to make a bus trip to ESA’s ESAC Establishment, near Madrid, to help our Estrack engineers send the signal.

The 26 students and 4 teachers crowded around an Estrack console work station at ESAC, while Cebreros station manager Lionel Hernandez briefed them on how tracking stations work. Shortly after 14:00 CEST, Lionel called over to the Estrack control room at ESOC, where station engineer May Aimee Larsen was sitting at a similar console, commanding the 35m station antenna at Cebreros; May was assisted by Holger Dreihahn.

May set up Cebreros to zenith pointing (almost straight up, at 89.99deg) and then waited for Lionel’s command on the voice loop; Lionel, in turn, asked if she could accept a shouted command from the students – of course, she could! Lionel led the count down, and at 14:22 CEST, with a loud shout of ‘SEND’, the signal was transmitted. Sending took about 3 minutes.

Many thanks to the students and teachers for their assistance in helping us close out the Rosetta Wake Up campaign and send a signal to the future!

You can read their excellent team project, which they delivered to ESAC on 15 May, on how to colonise an exoplanet in the future here.

Here’s a selection of photos.

Comments

1 Comment

  • Tony Stark says:

    Whose future? For any ETI who detect it, this will be the distant past. And we humans on Earth will not be able to catch up with the signals ever.

    How much thought was actually put into this METI? And clearly you did not consult with the IAU or any other official office to see if it was okay to do this, sending messages into the galaxy at random.

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