METI, or Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence, is a San Francisco-based company that hopes to make the universe a little less lonely. Instead of waiting for intelligent life to contact Earth, the METI team plans to make the first move by sending signals to other worlds.
The friendly cosmic messages will be sent via radio and laser signals to a rocky planet that’s orbiting Proxima Centauri, the nearest-known star other than the Sun. METI hopes to accomplish this task by the end of 2018. If the mission is successful, this will be the first formal effort to send a strong, repeating, and deliberate message into space towards a specific target.
Even though METI was founded just last year, it has extraordinary goals. Once the 2018 project is complete, the team will target more distant locations, possibly hundreds or thousands of light years away. Additionally, METI plans to raise over one million dollars to design, build, and maintain a powerful remote transmitter.
When discussing the possibility of life beyond Earth, controversy is never far behind. Some believe that drawing attention to Earth isn’t a safe option if cosmic hostility lurks in depths of space. Others embrace METI’s mission, excited by the possibility of groundbreaking discoveries.
Andrew Fraknoi, chair of the astronomy department at Foothill College, shared his opinions on interstellar communication, noting, "If everyone who can send a message decides only to receive messages, it will be a very quiet galaxy."