As humans, we have always been curious about the existence of extraterrestrial life. For decades, we have been actively searching for signs of life beyond our planet through initiatives like the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI).
However, as we try to make contact with aliens, have we unintentionally revealed our location to them?
In 1970, Arecibo message-the first interstellar radio message was sent into space. The Arecibo message was sent to deliver basic information about earth and humankind to a cluster of stars. It was broadcasted to a cluster of stars and contained information about Earth’s location and our understanding of numbers and basic chemistry. Extra territorial life, if exists, might not have intercepted Arecibo messages but may come to know about humans through satellite signals.
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Mobile phones and satellite internet
Modern technology, particularly mobile phones and satellite internet, poses a new risk.
The number of mobile phone users has been increasing exponentially, and so has the strength and reach of mobile signals. These signals are broadcasted from a network of towers that cover the entire planet, meaning that even in the most remote locations, there is still a chance of mobile signals being picked up by other alien civilizations.
Similarly, satellite internet signals can also be intercepted, revealing our location to anyone who might be listening. These signals are sent to and from Earth through satellites orbiting our planet. Although the signals are encrypted, they are not completely secure.
If aliens come across these signals. we cannot anticipate how they would process the signals.
Low Earth orbit constellations
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Recent developments in Low Earth orbit (LEO) constellations like Starlink and OneWeb have made satellite internet more accessible than ever before. With thousands of satellites being launched into orbit, our planet has never been more connected. However, this also means that our footprint in space has become more prominent. And while the chances of alien civilizations existing and detecting us are slim, it’s still a possibility that researchers are exploring.
To assess the risk of our technology revealing our location to extraterrestrial life, researchers have conducted studies to determine how far our signals could travel and be detected. One such study, conducted by researchers from Cornell University, focused on analyzing the signals transmitted from the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico.
The study found that a narrowband signal from Arecibo, transmitted at a power of 20 kilowatts, could be detected by an alien civilization located up to 20,000 light-years away. However, the researchers noted that the likelihood of an alien civilization existing within this range is extremely low. Additionally, the signal would be heavily diluted and difficult to distinguish from the background noise, making it unlikely to be detected.
Another study conducted by scientists at the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute focused on the potential for unintentional leakage of signals from our technology. The researchers analyzed a range of signals, including television broadcasts, satellite communications, and radar transmissions, to determine the likelihood of these signals being detectable by alien civilizations.
The study found that while our signals could potentially be detected, the likelihood of them being understood is low. This is because alien civilizations would need to have a similar understanding of our technology and communication methods in order to interpret the signals.
Overall, the risk of our technology revealing our location to alien civilizations is extremely low. However, as LEO constellations continue to be launched, our footprint in space will become even more prominent. It’s important for researchers and companies to consider the potential impact of their technology on the wider universe and take steps to mitigate any potential risks.