The DailyTelegraph | 12 August 2009
By Alison Rehn
WHEN a certain extra-terrestrial phoned home in 1982 it moved a generation around the globe.
Now, three decades later, Earthlings will have the chance to send a message of their own - and this time it's not fiction.
From 10.30am, Australians will be able to send SMS-like messages to possible intelligent life on a planet far beyond Earth's solar system.
The world-first initiative, launched today to mark National Science Week, allows the public to visit website Hello From Earth and type a message 160 characters long.
The message will then be beamed via a Canberra observatory to the planet Gliese 581d, the nearest Earth-like planet outside our solar system likely to support life.
Gliese 581d is eight times the size of Earth and 20.3 light years (194 trillion kilometres) away.
Due to its size, it is classified as a "Super Earth".
While the prospect of getting a response from extra-terrestrial life is exciting, be warned - it will take a while. Messages sent over the next week will arrive in the planet's vicinity by about December 2029.
Federal Science Minister Kim Carr will send the first message.
"Hello from Australia on the planet we call Earth. These messages express our people's dreams for the future. We want to share those dreams with you," Senator Carr's message will read.
Senator Carr told of his own personal interest in the heavens.
"As a child I, like many Australians, stared up at the stars and wondered what was out there," he said.
"Now science has allowed me to send a personal message that may answer that question."
To make sure any messages don't trigger an inter-galactic war, moderators will monitor the messages and weed out the ones deemed inappropriate.
HelloFromEarth.net spokesman Wilson da Silva said it was like a "message in a bottle" cast out into the stars.