Sónar Calling GJ273b is in the news, at the time of this question, for sending messages into space in an attempt to contact aliens. Some news sites are calling the messages "secret". Does anyone know why? Was the sending of the messages supposed to be secret?

Scientists take risk sending secret message to aliens

Scientists send secret message to aliens in new search for intelligent life


From the Newsweek article (caution on annoying auto-play media) Scientists have Sent Messages to Advanced Alien Civilizations - and ar Hoping for a Reply in 25 years:

Despite these concerns, they forged ahead and it was announced the messages had been sent at Sónar, a festival of music, creativity and technology held in Barcelona, Spain. Sónar initially came up with the idea for the project, and asked METI and the Institute of Space Studies of Catalonia (IEEC) to collaborate on it.

They sent out messages to GJ273—or Luyten’s Star—a red dwarf with a potentially habitable exoplanet called GJ273b. The message was beamed towards the system on October 16, 17, and 18. It took 11 minutes each day, with the total transmission lasting 33 minutes.

Image caption "The messages were sent from the EISCAT antenna in Tromsø, Norway. SÓNAR INTERNATIONAL"

enter image description here

Linked video:

  • $\begingroup$ I added some background information so people will know of what you speak. Please feel free to adjust it or use something different, but just saying "X is in the news" without some kind of link or reference is not the best way to start a question - you are asking every reader to do their own searching. Better to explain exactly what you are referring to first, and a link to just what you have read so far. Interesting question for sure! You might include more than "is it true that it is secret?" because that's not really a good space exploration question. Maybe power, possible range... $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Nov 17, 2017 at 8:03
  • $\begingroup$ ...why this particular frequency, or something a little more technical. But if you just say something was "called secret" and don't even provide a link showing who or what called it secret, it's impossible to answer, and is therefore a prime candidate for closing. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Nov 17, 2017 at 8:05
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I thought enough info had been given. I added a few links. I wasn't sure where to put the question. Searches for SETI and METI showed results here. $\endgroup$ Nov 17, 2017 at 8:25
  • $\begingroup$ OK that's better. It's totally up to you if you want to keep the stuff I've added or delete it. Sometimes people post a question and then don't come back for a few days, so I added things just to make sure other readers know what's going on. Thanks! $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Nov 17, 2017 at 8:33

1 Answer 1


They were called "secret" because the media doesn't really understand what "encoded" means, and in any case "secret" attracts more attention in a headline, which is what sells.

There is nothing secret about the message. The encoding is really a set of logical structures to hopefully make it understandable to another intelligence that may not have anything in common with us culturally.

In fact previous ones, including the message on the Voyager plaques have also included forms of encoding. Voyager has encoded pulsar locations relative to our solar system.


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