What would happen if SETI found an alien signal?
Is there a procedure to announce the discovery of intelligent extraterrestrial life?
Asked by Mark Parsons
Detecting a signal would be a massive find and something the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute have been searching for for decades. If such an occasion arose, SETI have put a protocol, constructed by an international group of SETI scientists, in place.
Once detected, the discoverers would need to verify that the signal is extraterrestrial and artificial rather than some kind of manmade interference or natural, cosmic static. The original detectors of the signal should notify not just the scientists who put together the protocol, so that they can independently check it, but should also inform the national authorities. And it doesn’t stop there – next the world’s astronomers are notified, who then use every available telescope to study the source of the signal. If the signal is then confirmed to be that of alien communication, then the finding is spread to scientific channels along with the media.
Answered by science journalist Gemma Lavender