Frequently Asked Questions

(...with answers)

  • How are messages transmitted into space?

    • Your messages are beamed into space with a low wattage 2-5 GHz transmitter attached to an 18 inch parabolic dish. The photons that comprise this message will continue to travel through Space for uncounted millennia.
    • For more of the Science behind this see our Science page.
  • Can aliens hear our messages?

    The signal broadcast into space will expand and weaken as it travels. While it isn't possible to know what an advanced technology can and can't do, we feel its unlikely that aliens will intercept enough of our signal to understand your message. That said, the contents of your message will survive encoded in the photons that we broadcast. Millions of years from now, some of them may pass by inhabited worlds...perhaps inhabited by our decendents.
  • What factors determine the strength of the signal received by aliens?

    Let's talk about transmission power:
    1. For an antenna that produces an unfocused signal, the strength drops off as 1/r^3. With a parabolic antenna the signal is pushed forward into a cone and the power drops off much more slowly. The size of the signal producing antenna is set to the wavelength of the signal.
    2. For a receiving antenna, size of the collector dish is what is important. A bigger dish receives more signal. 
    3. The data rate is inversely proportional to the signal strength. If the ones and zeros take twice as long to send, then they have twice the power. 
    4. We've chosen a frequency that is passes through our atmosphere cleanly (2-10 GHz).
    5. What we are sending is roughly similar to the frequency and wattage of the transmitters on the voyager and pioneer space probes. We were able to send and receive from these probes out to the edge of our solar system (heliosphere boundary). But not much further. 
    6. By the time our signal reaches the closest star, it will be too weak for a terrestial antenna's to pick up. However, an advanced alien civilization with an antenna several miles wide (perhaps built in orbit) would be able to receive the signal.