The team is keeping key details about the stunt secret – including type of signal and what it includes. However, a radio signal takes about five to 20 minutes to reach Mars from Earth.
The tight lid is because the encoded transmission will be shared with the public, allowing them to help with the decoding.
The European Space Agency’s Mars orbiter will transmit the encoded message at 3 pm ET, with receipt on Earth 16 minutes later – after traveling 180 million miles through space.
Following the transmission, scientists will process the signal and make it available to the public for decoding.
The signal will be sent to Earth by ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO) studying Mars’ atmosphere since 2016.
Daniela dePaulis, the visionary artist behind the A Sign in Space project, said in a statement: ‘Throughout history, humanity has searched for meaning in powerful and transformative phenomena.
‘Receiving a message from an extraterrestrial civilization would be a profoundly transformational experience for all humankind.
‘A Sign in Space offers the unprecedented opportunity to tangibly rehearse and prepare for this scenario through global collaboration, fostering an open-ended search for meaning across all cultures and disciplines.’
The SETI Institute is a non-profit, multi-disciplinary research and education organization whose mission is to lead humanity’s quest to understand the origins and prevalence of life and intelligence in the Universe and to share that knowledge with the world.
A Sign in Space is also set to be the first project to conduct such a feat. Other research sent signals to space and not the other way around.
The Allen Telescope Array (ATA), Robert C. Byrd at the Green Bank Observatory (GBT) in West Virginia and the Medicina Radio Astronomical Station in northern Italy will work together to collect the signal from Mars.
Once SETI captures the ‘alien’ signal, teams will securely store the processed data in collaboration with Open Data Archive and Filecoin, a decentralized storage network.
To engage the public, the SETI Institute will host a social media live stream event featuring interviews with key team members, including scientists, engineers, artists and more, joining the live stream from around the world, including control rooms from the ATA, the GBT, and Medicina.
‘Anyone working to decode and interpret the message can discuss the process in the A Sign in Space Discord server,’ SETI shared.
‘Submissions of findings, thoughts, and artistic and scientific inputs may be made through the dedicated submission form on the project’s website.’
Following the transmission, the A Sign in Space team will host a series of Zoom-based discussions open to the public around topics that consider the societal implications of detecting a signal from an extraterrestrial civilization.
And discussions will occur over the next six to eight weeks after receiving the transmission.
SETI’s experiment could be put to good use as a separate study predicts aliens will make contact with Earth by 2029.
In 2002, NASA sent radio wave transmission to the Pioneer 10 probe in a routine protocol to send data and ensure communication was established.
This signal also reached a star roughly 27 light-years from our planet as transmission spreads out when they contact an object.
The UC researchers hope this signal was intercepted by extraterrestrials that returned a callback to Earth.