What happens when alien probes arrive?

(ORDO NEWS) — Let’s imagine that in the near future, humanity intercepts an alien probe that was launched unimaginably long ago at a distance of very many light years from Earth. What will happen then?

That is the question asked by Graeme H. Smith, professor and astronomer in the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of California.

Most likely, Smith suggests, Earth scientists will thoroughly study the find and do everything possible to uncover its secrets. And then the probe will probably end up in a museum.

Perhaps people will send their own apparatus to where the “interstellar wanderer” came from.

But due to the low speed – compared to the speed of light – that a modern terrestrial spacecraft can reach, arrival at a destination may take tens of thousands of years.

But the most interesting, says Smith, will happen a few years after the interception of the first alien probe, when people manage to catch a second probe sent from the same exoplanet.

After all, if we extrapolate the history of human space exploration to an alien civilization, then we can conclude that the second sent probe could actually be launched much earlier – and, therefore, would represent less advanced technology than the probe intercepted earlier. In his argument, Smith appeals to the Voyager program.

Assuming that technology develops gradually, Smith found that if the Earth sent out probes every 100 years, then launched in 10,000 years, they could overtake Voyager 2 fairly quickly, and then overtake it.

Extrapolating from this purely hypothetical scenario, Smith found that the 140th probe, sent about 14,000 years later, would arrive at the same destination almost two million years before Voyager 2.

Thus, probes launched by advanced alien civilizations could transmit somewhat confusing signals to their senders, and not in the order that was intended.


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