Sorry, ‘E.T.’ Fans: That Mysterious Signal Isn’t From Aliens, After All
Time to take off the tinfoil hats.
I know, I know—we were all so ready to phone home earlier this week, after news that scientists detected a mysterious signal coming from a star in the Hercules constellation. SETI astronomers, tasked with studying extraterrestrial intelligence (think Jodi Foster in “Contact”), got all excited about a radio signal they thought to be emanating from star HD 164595, approximately 94 light-years away.
Astronomer Douglas Vakoch, president of METI (Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence) International, told CNN that the strength of the signal indicated that “it was clearly made by a civilization with capabilities beyond those of humankind.”
Upon further investigation, however, scientists believe the signal to be of a more…earthly variety. A statement from Seth Soshak of the SETI Institute has identified the signal as coming from—drumroll, please—a Russian military satellite. Ta-da!
For people who work closely with SETI and extraterrestrial research, this comes as no surprise. Science journalist Lee Billings tweeted a statement expressing a lack of shock at the letdown: “It’s not our first time at the rodeo, so we know how it works.”
But for those of us who perked up at the possibility of life on other planets, we’ll continue to hold out hope, no matter how far-fetched.