♪ ♪ [Static] [Pulsing sounds] [Deep pulsing] [Static, deep pulsing] [Sounds stop] [Birds chirping] [Wind blowing] ♪ [Bird wings fluttering] ♪ Man: This is control room.
We're panning southwest.
We shall be in a position to start another survey in 20 minutes.
♪ Different man: So we had a tipoff from Breakthrough last night that there was an unusual transmission in the direction of Voyager.
NASA suspects it's a fault, but our team here picked up multiple narrowband signals.
[Heavy footsteps] I don't think we can discount this being genuine.
[Haptics on cell phone] [Whoosh] [Whoosh] [Indistinct radio transmission] ♪ Woman: Extraterrestrial life!
The scientific basis for extraterrestrial life is so clear.
♪ Man: In the language of the U.S. Department of Defense, "Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon," which add fuel to the belief of some that we are not alone.
♪ Woman: It's looking like most stars may, in fact, have planets.
There may be a tremendous number of possible habitable worlds.
Different woman: So you see this as a national security issue?
They're going to have to acknowledge that there is something there we need to be concerned about.
♪ Different man: This is a goal of NASA-- to understand the origin, evolution, and distribution of life in the universe.
Different man: It's very important that the facts are heard and fully understood and that this body is able to take the appropriate decisions.
Different man: If there is a signal out there, we're getting closer and closer and closer to it.
♪ ♪ First of all, your first concern is "Is the signal real?"
Secondly, "Is it coming from the sky or coming from the local environment?"
"Does it have any information content?"
"Have we ever seen this before?"
And you just work through a whole lot of different dependent questions.
Man: If nature doesn't give you an explanation, then you have be prepared to think about non-natural, artificial... sort of technological civilization explanations for the data.
You have to be open to that.
[Static] If we do detect a signal from somewhere and it looks like it's of intelligent origin, what's gonna happen is an alert is going to go out, and every telescope in the world is gonna turn to that location and start gathering data.
[High-pitched tone] ♪ [Low pulsing] ♪ Man: The transmission was picked up at 8.4 megahertz, but extended analysis has shown it was sweeping through multiple frequencies.
Now, Margaret is probably best placed to give the details.
Margaret Parker: So our main interest is the power required to simultaneously transmit across so many frequencies like this.
If it's genuine, it would rule out any current technology we know of.
♪ Voyager is out of sight for us now, so we're putting together requests for telescope time with Parks.
We've also seen what looks like complex modulation in the data... ♪ and a powerful, sustained narrowband transmission at 1,420 megahertz.
♪ We've kept it amongst ourselves for now, but...I imagine it's gonna be pretty common knowledge by tomorrow.
♪ All right.
Suppose that you had an old-fashioned analog radio with a dial, and you turn that dial, and you hear a lot of hiss and noise... [Static] and suddenly, that noise goes away and you hear a very clear tone.
[High-pitched tone] So that's the kind of thing that we're looking for.
♪ Garrett: So we're trying to think, you know, where might we all think was a special sort of frequency to use?
You look out in the universe, what you see is lots and lots of hydrogen, and it just happens that there's a natural process where you have lots and lots of hydrogen, it produces this radiation, this radio emission at this particular frequency, 1,420 megahertz... [Static] so one thought is that this is a place that other civilizations would observe because they will also be doing astronomy and they'll also be looking at hydrogen in the universe, so 1,420 megahertz, they will have built receivers but also probably built transmitters at this frequency.
[High-pitched tone] Man: So 1,420 megahertz is this frequency we know about, but it's also a frequency that the aliens know about, so right away, you can say, "OK.
If they're really "gonna try and get in touch with anybody, "maybe they would start out by broadcasting at that frequency."
[Static] You sort of, rendezvous at this frequency that every technical society in the universe will know.
In all the time we've been listening, we've only picked up a handful of signals that looked promising.
Perhaps the best known of these was back in the 1970s.
♪ Man: Over the last 20 years, several groups of radio astronomers have, from time to time, taken part in this attempt to tune into the galactic cloud, and for a few of them, it's become a full-time occupation.
♪ ♪ So 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, the observatory computers record the sounds of the universe, and all they ever hear is a hardly changing hiss... except once.
[Computer clattering] We were detecting signals based on their strength... and we didn't have enough space to store vast quantities of data, so the idea was we simply print it out.
That was how the printer sounded when it printed out all 120 characters at once.
[Printer chattering and humming] The whole system was working without anybody being at the radio observatory.
[Deep pulse] [Deep pulse] [Deep pulse] There's always background noise.
When this radio signal came through, starting out at 6-- that meant 6 times the background noise.
Now the next letter, E, the E represented a signal strength of 14 times the background noise.
Q is 26 times the background noise.
At the peak, U was 30 times the background noise.
[Deep pulse] [Buzzing] Then we dropped off J and then 5, and then, the signal was gone.
[Static] ♪ I recognized immediately "We've got something very interesting."
♪ I wrote the word "Wow!"
in the margin of the printout.
of course indicates something very interesting, and this turned out to be the strongest narrowband signal that we ever detected.
The director of the observatory wrote a letter after the detection.
He said, "The 'Wow!'
signal is highly suggestive "of extraterrestrial intelligent origin, "but little more can be said until it returns for further study."
Man: It was not explained by something on Earth, it was not explained by something that we know about stars, it was not explained by something else that we know about in space.
So as far as we know, this is an anomalous discovery.
It matches many of the hallmarks that scientists expect alien signals to have, and we still have no other explanation for it.
Shostak: I've talked to people at Ohio State about this and asked them what do they think it is, and they basically sort of threw up their hands.
Nobody knows, and that's the problem with finding something only once.
It's very hard to study something that you only see once.
[Printer chattering] Ehman: If the "Wow!"
signal were to come through now, it would be much different than what we saw.
Technology has changed tremendously.
Well, I'm hoping we actually do discover signals from extraterrestrial civilizations.
I'm hoping I live long enough to see that.
I've only got a few years left since I'm 82, and, uh, I would like to see something during my remaining lifetime, however short that may be.
[Static] [Pulsing] Woman: What does this sound like to you?
[Static] Random noise?
Maybe a muffled voice.
[Deep squawk] I'm Anita Kay.
Welcome to "The Insight."
[Man and woman speaking Japanese] ♪ [Signal playing] [Signal playing] ♪ Man: Are we alone in the universe?
A new discovery revealed this week has many thinking, "Maybe we aren't."
Sir Richard Southern joins us now-- Woman: A mysterious radio signal picked up-- From outer space.
Now, Francis, mysterious radio signals have been picked up.
strong radio signals about-- Man: They saw one area that had a signal, but the signal didn't stay on-- Different man: But they got rhythm too.
So can we imagine that it's likely that this signal we're picking up was sent by thinking beings?
[Indistinct chatter] Different man: Just the idea of intelligence elsewhere in the universe has set the Twitterverse all a-twitter.
[Indistinct chatter] [Howls] [Digitally altered belching] Oh, that's filth.
[Air horns blowing] ♪ [Cash register dings] [Chime] [Indistinct voice] Woman: So let's turn now to our science editor David Shukman.
David, these seem like intriguing reports.
What do we actually know?
Well, there's a lot of excitement about this around the world, and with that, a great deal of speculation, some of it, frankly, pretty far-fetched, some sounding more plausible.
What we're pretty certain about is that the signal did, indeed, come from space and that it was really powerful, but beyond that, frankly, no one's got much of a clue.
♪ During the course of the day, I've been talking to a lot of different scientists, and a few of them are floating the notion that the signal may contain some kind of data, information but in a form that we've never encountered before... [Radio signal] and if that's the case--and it's a massive "if" obviously-- it may take years before we get to grips with what this is all about.
[Radio signal] [Signal stops] [Whales singing] The question about deciphering messages is always so complicated if you don't know what you're looking for.
[Whales singing] Whales are a really good study object.
They are, in some ways, the closest thing that we have to aliens here on Earth.
Whales are highly intelligent, and their environment is entirely different from ours.
The patterns that we hear are clearly patterns that we recognize as music, they're repeated patterns, they are pitched.
It is a form of vocalizing that we would think of as the equivalent of singing, but even at that level, we don't really know what it's for.
[Singing] It is music?
Is it language?
What does it mean?
How is it used?
I think, at the best of times, it can give us a sense of how difficult the task at hand is and how many layers we have to cut through in order to get somewhere.
[Whales singing] When I look at how Hollywood portrays science fiction connecting to contacts and so on, one of the things that I think is unreal is the fact that we so often talk to people like ourselves, people that can readily communicate, have similar ambitions, similar responses... but when I think about intelligent life and the variety of it, when I think of the fact that, you know, intelligent life on Earth, we've got dogs, we've got apes.
We've got octopi that have their intelligence in their arms, not in their head.
We can't talk to most of the creatures on Earth in a intelligent way.
How are we gonna talk to the intelligent civilizations?
I'm not sure we'll ever understand them.
That is a big challenge.
Tarter: You know, one of the things that we often forget is that a sense of timescale might be incredibly different for a technological civilization that evolved somewhere else.
They might think in much faster time or much slower time, and the rate at which things change and present information, as humans, we just might not be able to appreciate it at all.
♪ It's not, you know, "Here's a movie!"
It's not gonna be that way.
It's not gonna be, "Here's a movie of the aliens!
Oh, you want to FaceTime with the alien?"
That's not what's gonna happen.
So it's gonna be a mixture of responses, but for those who are, you know, on Team Science it's gonna be incredibly exciting because now we have new stuff to study that is unlike anything we've seen before.
[Door opens] [Electronic sounds playing] Parker: Hello to everyone new who's joining us today.
So, our teams have been running multiple scenarios over the past few days, and it's looking increasingly unlikely that the signal would have originated from the Voyager craft itself.
Our best guess is that we picked up a reflection from another source or maybe something that actually crossed Voyager's line of sight.
♪ We've just started to model different potential transmitting bodies, but it's too early to draw any conclusions.
♪ I'd say there is decades of work to be done here.
♪ ♪ Man: That's such a good point.
I mean, what if the aliens are living here on Earth already?
Woman: Here's my theory.
First of all, I love how they say-- they also deny it's part of any secret government operation.
Well, if it's secret, they're not gonna tell us.
Different man: Even NASA people, ex-NASA people, that come out and say, "Look, mate, aliens"-- They retire and they're like, "Aliens are real, bruv, "like, they are just are.
Like, we're fully aware of them," but they don't tell people because it would cause too much of an uproar.
Different man: Anyone that says that in the entire universe-- Shukman: It's been days now, and the so-called "Voyager signal" is still puzzling scientists around the world.
Where it came from and what it might mean are being studied intensely right now.
And in the absence of anything concrete, all kinds of unfounded ideas, some of them quite unsettling, are being stirred up.
Man: Can everyone please chill out about this alien signal, freaking out that they're coming to get us, call the Avengers.
[Altered voice] Hate to break it to you guys, but it's a hoax!
[Chirp] [Chirp] [Chirping] Woman: Alexa, do you believe in aliens?
Alexa: This is one of those things that some people like to decide for themselves.
Different woman: But I feel like, you know, it's their language, we don't really understand, but they're trying to make contact.
Man: Alien civilization, and they are coming for us.
We need to be prepared.
Make sure you have enough supplies and get ready for Armageddon because this is gonna be all-out intergalactic war.
Full-scale alien apocalypse!
[Protestors clamoring] Woman: With such an unclear signal, without a very obvious intent and message, I think there would be a lot of uncertainty, and uncertainty breeds anxiety.
♪ We do see disturbance in people's day-to-day routines when big events happen.
I mean, we saw this certainly with the global pandemic, that people rushed out because they foresaw that there would be circumstances in which supplies would be limited.
I think you'll see an increase in people feeling that "There has to be something I can do, "so what can I do to prepare, "and I will go out, and I will buy tinned food, "I will buy toilet paper, I'll stock up on water just in case."
And that's a way of reassuring yourself that you still have some control over the situation.
[Indistinct chatter] Con los extraterrestres, está la gente revolucionada.
Están muy preocupados mucha gente.
Se creen que va a pasar algo.
Se llevan todas las comidas a para guardar comida en casa.
Vacían las estanterías de los supermercados.
Y no sé lo que pasará, pero está muy revolucionada la gente, sí.
Pues mira, no sé.
La gente a ver si se calma un poco ya porque esto es una señal que ha aparecido del espacio exterior y ni siquiera se sabe lo que es todavía.
Así que un poco de calma.
[Radio signal] Garrett: I'm sure, you know, a lot of things would be happening, and there'd be many different reactions... but I can assure you the scientific community would be really focused on trying to understand the nature of that signal and its characteristics and where it was coming from.
Is it far away, or, you know, maybe it's even in the solar system or passing through the solar system, so, you know, we'd be working hard on trying to understand those kind of things.
♪ ♪ Woman: Well, we've had a number of automatic warnings over the last few hours.
It's coming from multiple observatories.
Chile and the Canaries both flagged objects of interest.
We'll keep you updated as the situation develops.
[Computer chimes] ♪ ♪ ♪ [Haptics] [Whoosh] ♪ [Indistinct radio chatter] ♪ Woman: With the Spaceguard survey, Congress mandated that we study the sky and find at least 90% of all asteroids a kilometer or greater.
So because of this, a number of surveys have started-- right now, there's about 7-- looking at the entire sky every night in an automated format to search for moving objects.
Without these surveys, I think it's fair to say that we would've never made the discovery that we made back in 2017.
[Sped-up, overlapping audio] ♪ Man: Never seen anything like this before.
Different man: We've never seen anything like it, and we don't really have any idea of how you'd make it.
There's lot of theoreticians scratching their heads and coming up with ideas because--at the moment we've only got a very small amount of data, so it's difficult to tell what it is.
Could it be aliens?
It could, um... [Radio stations changing] Meech: It was a visitor from elsewhere in our galaxy, a relic from another planetary system.
♪ My colleague called me at home and said, "Karen, I think we have found an interstellar object."
I was silent for a minute.
I was thinking, "Oh, ...!
"This shouldn't be today.
I just want to relax," but then I got very excited.
♪ So we had about 5 or 6 days in which to do all of the science.
You're pulling in long days, 18-, 19-hour days, everybody was, and I was coordinating everyone, bringing in the data, analyzing the data, and what this meant was I lived in my office.
Air mattress, sleeping bag, it's quite cozy.
You wake up after a few hours of sleep and get back to the data.
But the first really big surprise, I think, was how much it changed in brightness.
If you have reflected light coming from the big side of an object, it will be bright, and then as it rotates, you will get a small amount of reflected light, so you can use this brightness measurement as a measurement of effectively how elongated something is.
Garrett: I think it is a really unusual object.
The shape, you know, is so extreme.
You know, it's sort of 10 times longer than it is broad.
I don't really know what you call--call the thing because it--it didn't really have the normal properties you would expect from a comet.
Meech: We were rather shocked.
There's nothing in our solar system that is that elongated.
Typically if you have elongated things, eventually they'll hit something and break, so it's just very unusual to have something that long.
We contacted two people who were specialists in the Hawaiian language, and we said, "You have two days to devise a Hawaiian name for us," and so they did.
By Sunday, they came up with a name, and they suggested Oumuamua, which means scout or messenger from the distant past reaching out to us.
[Low rumbling] Oluseyi: It came in going very fast, and there were two things that were different about it that made it quite puzzling.
One was its shape, and it also moved in such a way that it appeared that there was another force on it other than gravity.
Now, what might that have been?
Comets do this all the time, and the other force is the material being ejected from their surface.
So was it cometary in nature?
Well, there was no evidence for a cometary tail.
So what was happening was a bit of a mystery.
[Low rumbling] [Rock sliding] Woman: Observatories around the world discovered that the object was a lonely voyager.
Different woman: Was Oumuamua, an alien artifact?
Different woman: 2017, observatories all around and above the world focused on this approximately half-mile-long object to learn as much as possible about this cosmic visitor before it flew too far away to see.
The Breakthrough Project decided to take one of the big radio telescopes, the Green Bank Telescope, and listen in case there were signals coming from Oumuamua, and several of the press asked me, "Isn't this a silly experiment?"
And I said, "No.
You know, what if it's alien technology?
"Wouldn't you want to have done the experiment?
This is your one chance, it's a simple, easy experiment," but nothing was detected from any of the radio experiments.
♪ [Matsuoka speaking Japanese] ♪ ♪ Woman: The idea of aliens here is so scary.
Man: I would be very curious and with many questions, how they think, how they see us.
Different man: ♪ Ahh ♪ Different man: It's the most terrifying.
I don't trust no alien.
You know, I think it's trying to reach our planet, yeah?
Different man: What else is this alien race maybe capable of?
[Woman speaking native language] ♪ Shukman: The consensus among scientists is that although the object is moving extremely rapidly, it does not pose any danger to us here on Earth, and while this could prove to be one of the most important scientific discoveries of all time, it's triggered a frenzy of diplomatic activity.
There have been discussions around the clock at the UN, and there's due to be an emergency special session.
Debate is likely to be heated as the world's governments grapple with how best to react to this unprecedented event.
[Man speaking French] Man: to make known it supports the proposition to move all nuclear defenses to an elevated level of preparedness on the condition that a new working coalition... [Woman speaking native language] [Man speaking native language] [Overlapping voices] Man: International information sharing all data connected to interstellar artifact 1F/2SJ U1.
♪ Othman: The discussion on space at the United Nations started with the launch of Sputnik by the Russians in 1957, and there was a fear that between Russia and the United States there would be an arms race in outer space.
At the 188th meeting of the Committee on Peaceful Uses of Outer Space, in 1977, the question was asked, "That in view of the tremendous impact "any contact with an extraterrestrial civilization "would have upon our planet, can this committee," it asks, "continue to ignore this possible development?"
Most of the time, the member states do not want to discuss extraterrestrial intelligence or life because it's assumed that this issue will trivialize all the other issues that you're talking about.
Talking about space debris, weaponization in space-- those are very important topics, but if there is extraterrestrial intelligence, it will trivialize the other discussions.
[Indistinct chatter] So if there was an interstellar object that this was obviously emanating radio signals, we invite the scientists from all over the world to give its views to the subcommittee on what we should do next.
What does this mean actually?
Man: It's very important that the facts are heard and fully understood and that this body is able to take the appropriate decisions...
I mean, you cannot have a quick solution--ha-- in the United Nations.
It has to be extraordinary, and if it's to be extraordinary, then there has to be an extraordinary effort from the office of the Secretary General to decide what-- what to do next.
♪ Kay: It feels so surreal to be saying this, but they're simply calling it the Artifact, an object that may contain technology formed somewhere other than Earth.
♪ ♪ Shukman: What's amazing is how this whole extraordinary saga began with just one signal.
That's all we had to go on.
It took another 5 or 6 days before the first image appeared, and when it did, it was really grainy.
Now just in the last few hours, the first detailed pictures have started to appear, and they'll be vital, for helping us understand, what this object is and where it came from.
♪ From what we've seen so far, the object appears to be tumbling through space.
There's no sign of it moving under any kind of control.
An extraordinary thought given that it's almost 200 miles long and traveling at speeds we've never seen before.
These images raise so many questions.
Is this a structure in its own right, or could it once have been part of something larger?
Is it genuinely artificial, and if so, what created it?
And perhaps most important of all, where did it come from?
♪ If I was on a desert island and a broken bottle washed up on shore, that would be information that would be really exciting.
It would mean I am not as deserted on this island as I thought I was, and I think that's what this would tell us.
It wouldn't tell us everything we wanted to know about the aliens, but it would tell us we're not as alone as we thought we were.
If there was some sort of alien artifact that would come through the solar system, you would do as much to characterize it.
What is it made of?
How big is it?
How dense is it?
Is it spinning?
These are the things that help you understand what it is.
So you have to rush and get the data first, and then you interpret the data afterwards.
We would be able to look at the light that was being reflected off it and also being absorbed by it, and that might tell us about the chemical composition of what we're looking at.
We'd be able to tell if it was a geological object, if it was made up of rock or if it was made up of metal and what kind of material it was.
If it was artificial, we might be able to tell what the different chemical composition of the artificial material is.
♪ Man: This is absolutely real, it is something that they just cannot explain, and it's something that they are taking seriously.
United States military, which is often blamed for being the cause of UFOs, is clueless.
They have no idea what it is either.
So the question mark is what is it?
♪ So you see this as a national security issue?
There going to have to acknowledge that there is something there we need to be concerned about from a national security standpoint that we don't even understand how you could build something that would do that.
We don't even understand the science behind it.
I mean, this is a whole difference of kind, not degree.
Man: In the language of the U.S. Department of Defense, unidentified ariel phenomenon, which add fuel to the belief of some we are not alone.
[Shouting] ♪ ♪ Kay: You're back with Anita Kay.
America tonight is split down the middle.
Gun sales have more than doubled across the country with many convinced of impending invasion.
For many others, however, the events of the last few days have been cause for intense celebration and represent one of the most significant moments in human history.
♪ Man: Oh, nice.
[Indistinct chatter] Woman: Tonight, enthusiasts from all over the state are out in force with their telescopes, attempting to become part of history.
The race is on to identify new features of this strange object.
It's--as you can see, it's a party atmosphere, but everybody is just enjoying the--the thrill.
Crowd: Dragon, begone!
Pues mira, cuando realmente vez ese pequeño punto de luz en el cielo y te das cuenta de que proviene de una civilización tecnológica muy lejana de nuestra galaxia, es alucinante.
[Indistinct chatter] Man: Es maravilloso ver a toda esta gente aquí reunida.
Creo que la gente seguirá hablando de esta noche dentro de 1000 años.
♪ Shukman: Tonight, the first studies into the Artifact are being released.
One suggests it could be made of a kind of metal, supporting the claim that it is indeed artificial.
Another intriguing line of enquiry is working out where it's come from... and because NASA and the European Space Agency, have developed ways of studying distant stars, it is possible that we could peer back along the object's path, to look for evidence of habitable worlds.
Haqq Misra: When I started studying science we, we didn't know about exoplanets.
The idea that we can detect planets around other star systems is something within just the last 20 or 30 years that we've been able to do.
The fact that exoplanets actually exist, their reality is incredibly recent.
It was in the nineties that we found the first such planet.
[Audio fast forwarding] Bill Clinton: I did not have sexual relations with that woman.
♪ America's Hubble Space Telescope has taken the first pictures of a planet outside the solar system.
It was found near two developing stars 450 light-years from Earth.
Astronomers believe it's the first concrete evidence there are other planets in deep space.
♪ Preston: Up until the last couple of decades, we didn't know that exoplanets even existed.
We thought they might, we hoped they might, and looking at our own solar system, we thought, "Well, surely they must," but we didn't have the technology to be able to identify them, and then Kepler came along, and now we do.
♪ Borucki: When I was thinking of Kepler and building a mission, one of the things I recognized was that NASA had a strategic objective-- determine the extent of life in our universe, and how would you do that?
Well, if you had planets, lots of planets in the habitable zone, Earth-sized planets, you could have life throughout the galaxy.
When I speak of the habitable zone, what we're talking about is if we take a planet and we move it close to a star, it's too hot.
If you had water on a planet, it would boil off, it would evaporate, it would be lost to space.
It's too hot.
If you go very far from the star, it's too cold.
Any water there is frozen forever.
So the intermediate region, the Goldilocks zone, we could have liquid water on the surface, where we think it would be conducive to the evolution of life.
That's what we call the habitable zone.
Kepler was designed to find out are Earth-sized planets frequent in our galaxy, are they in the habitable zone?
♪ Man: T-10, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, engine start, 1, 0, and liftoff of the Delta II rocket with Kepler on a search for planets in some way like our own.
Different man: Running our engine.
Chamber pressures are building.
Ground-lit solid motors are building in chamber pressure.
ET separation, and we have ignition of the air-lit solid motors.
♪ Borucki: When the telescope was launched, the thing was tumbling in space, pointing the antenna this way and that way.
It couldn't operate properly.
It was a real cliffhanger.
♪ We were really worried that mission might not work if we couldn't get it to stop spinning.
♪ When they found the electronic system was in difficulty, it shifted to a different system, was able to stop the spinning, and point the antenna toward the Earth.
♪ Throw off the cover, and we'll just use this magnificent image.
♪ 82 detectors showing hundreds of thousands of glowing stars.
Every detector working.
♪ It meant that the mission was certain to succeed.
We would find thousands of planets.
It was a beautiful, magnificent image.
I'll never forget it.
♪ ♪ Meech: I think the Kepler Telescope has been tremendously exciting because of the number and variety of exoplanetary systems that have been discovered.
With Kepler, it's, at least in my opinion, showing that we probably have a potential for a lot of habitable worlds.
The probability that we have life in the universe goes up.
♪ Borucki: We know, for a fact, not speculation, for a fact, our galaxy is full of Earth-sized planets in the habitable zone.
It might very well be full of life.
[Static] Man: Despite assurances from NASA that there are no other artificial objects in the solar system, the last 24 hours have seen air forces around the world increase their state of readiness.
♪ Meanwhile, troops have been mobilized in parts of mainland Europe to help alleviate some of the mounting food shortages and supply chain issues.
♪ Woman: Good morning and thank you for inviting us to present today.
I'd like to start by reiterating what many of you have probably already heard from your contacts.
We do not believe there are any more of these objects approaching us, at least not within the timeframe of weeks and months.
So our main focus in the last few days has been on narrowing down a point of origin.
We'd like to present today what we consider to be to be the best candidate star systems.
♪ Using speed and trajectory data, we were able to narrow down over 5,400 potential candidates.
Then we discarded any systems without an abundance of the elements seen in the Artifact... leaving us with these 8.
Of these, only one, we believe, might be old enough to be a potential home to complex life.
♪ 21 Sagittarii... a star system we believe is nearly 8 billion years old.
[Low rumbling] ♪ Tarter: Well, it's quite probable that something that we would find will be older.
You have to realize that in our region of the galaxy the sun is about a billion years younger than the surrounding stars, so our neighbors are quite a bit older than we are.
♪ Garrett: I think older stars would be interesting just because they'd been around for a longer time, so there's been a longer sort of period for life to evolve, and if it takes, a long time for intelligent life to evolve-- we know it was something like 4 billion years here on our planet.
You know, if you give it another 4 billion years, so you've a star that's maybe 8 billion years old, then it's had twice the amount of time to, you know, potentially produce some intelligent civilization.
So old stars, I think, are interesting.
Haqq Misra: When we think about looking for alien technology or alien life elsewhere in the galaxy we're almost certainly going to find things that have been around a really long time.
Really long time means millions to hundreds of millions to billions of years old.
♪ If we found technology that was a billion years old, that means when Earth was covered with microbes and slime, there's technology operating on some other planet.
I mean, that to me is quite profound.
[Radio signals] Announcer: "Science Q."
[Speaking Japanese] Ahh!
[Radio signals] This is Anita Kay.
Welcome back to "The Insight."
So what exactly is this thing, and what do we do now?
Well, based on its erratic and uncontrolled spin, many now suspect we've likely discovered some kind of technological debris... a piece of cosmic junk that originated somewhere in the Sagittarii System.
The question some are now starting to ask is should we attempt to send a message there, and if so, what should we say?
♪ Man: The 9,699th meeting of the Security Council is called to order.
Different man: Time to present an unacceptable risk.
Garrett: So I think we'd need to gather as much information together before we transmit.
You know, we've got this thing in our head that's sort of limited, you know, by the physical scale of it, but, you know, there might be other things out there that just has a capacity that is completely beyond what we can even imagine, and so it's a bit like, you know, ants, you know, trying to communicate with ants.
The gulf might be enormous between ourselves and other intelligences.
You'd have to think really hard about that before you pressed the send button.
[Indistinct] Othman: It's been decided that space is the common province of all humankind, and so when you talk about extraterrestrial life, then that obviously relates to space, and therefore, no one country in the world should decide on what to do.
Well, it turns out that there actually is a protocol for what you're supposed to do, and here it is actually.
"In the case of confirmed detection of a signal, "signatories to this declaration will not respond "without first seeking guidance and consent "of a broadly representative international body such as The United Nations."
Personally, I don't think that there's any reason to be particularly concerned because we're broadcasting all the time anyhow.
All our radio, all our television, all those signals, they just go right through the ionosphere.
Sure, they're not intended for aliens, but willy-nilly, they just go off the Earth out into space.
[Classical music playing] Announcer: Today, a new moon is in the sky, a 23-inch metal sphere placed in orbit by a Russian rocket team.
Here an artist's conception of how the feat was accomplished.
Tarter: Freeman Dyson is one of the people that's participated in the past years with us, and he says, "If you ever announce that you've "detected a signal, everyone is going to transmit and say whatever the hell they please, right?"
And then he chuckles, he says, "Hmm, "and wouldn't that cacophony be about the best characterization of 21st century Earth?"
Yo, what up guys?
I'm starting the first contact challenge.
I want to see what messages you've got for those alien freaks, so don't forget to post... Man: Kind of lonely, and I would be excited for there to be some other civilization out there that we might be able to... Child: Contact the aliens, then maybe we could learn from them and we would really lose out on a good situation.
Different child: So I think we should just send a message, tell them that we're friends, and we won't hurt them.
Woman: OK. so everyone's been asking me recently what my message would be to aliens.
Man: But somewhat also scary as it's civilized enough to send a signal.
[Radio stations changing] Woman: You're listening to "Talk Box" on Joy Radio.
I'm Jen Wright, and we're going to dive straight in with the question of the day, which is what message would you send to aliens?
Woman: So my message to aliens would be those in power don't speak for all of us.
Man: You've heard the sound that they've sent us, right?
Just total garbage, indecipherable nonsense, so I would send them equally annoying stuff back, the hold music that drives me mad.
Different man: Probably scare them away.
Wright: Ha ha ha!
[Indistinct chatter] ♪ ♪ [Radio signals] Woman: They say radio broadcasts travel out into space forever.
Well, if anyone's out there and listening to this, hello from the people of Earth.
It's nice to know we've got some company at last.
Anyway, here's one of our best Claude Debussy.
[Debussy's "Claire de Lune" playing] Let us know what you think.
♪ Shukman: Right now, NASA is sending commands up to the James Webb Space Telescope to align it perfectly with the 21 Sagittarii star system.
♪ It's a delicate operation a million miles above us, directing the telescope's intricate mechanisms to get it into just the right position.
Now once it's there, it'll deploy what's called a coronagraph to gather just a few thousand of the photons being emitted.
It's a little bit like the amount of light you get from a candle 4,500 miles away... but by analyzing that light, it should be possible to see if there are planets there and to gather clues about what kind of worlds these might be.
♪ Oluseyi: If life is out there, the James Webb Space Telescope is gonna increase our probability of finding it because it's way more sensitive than previous telescopes.
It's in space, which gives it this clear view unobstructed by our atmosphere, and it has the most modern technologies.
Preston: What I'm most interested in is the fact it's going to study exoplanet atmospheres, and we're going to be looking for biosignature gases.
So a biosignature is effectively a signature of biology.
We use it as a sign of finding something.
It could be a molecule in a rock, or it could be a gas in an atmosphere but something that can only be created by life.
It's only there because there is life existing.
♪ Haqq Misra: You might look for water vapor, oxygen, and methane.
That's a classic biosignature because on Earth those things derive from life, so on an exoplanet it would at least suggest to us the presence of life.
A technosignature is any remotely detectable evidence of technology.
So CFCs, or chlorofluorocarbons, they have a very long residence time in the atmosphere.
There are no sources of these kinds of chlorofluorocarbons on Earth other than our own industry.
Tarter: If you go all the way to thinking about a technological civilization that creates smog, CFCs, then with a lot of hours you might, in fact, be able to detect that smog and, in fact, deduce that there was some sort of a technology on that planet.
♪ ♪ [Kitamura speaking Japanese] [Radio signals] ♪ Kay: For 12 days, the world has held its breath.
Now, finally, we're beginning to get some answers.
The James Webb data has revealed something extraordinary.
[Radio signals] ♪ Shukman: Well, there have been no radio signals from it, no sign of activity, and no planet... [Audio breaking up] but there are hints about what could be the remains of a planet.
there are hints... Well, we do know that if planets get too close to their stars, they get torn apart by the gravitational forces.
If that happens... they get torn apart by the grav-- what's left is a ring of dust and debris.
It's a very distinctive shape, and it's similar to what we're seeing in the latest images released today.
and it's similar to what we're seeing in the latest images released today.
♪ We're also getting clues about what this ring is made of, and it seems to include chemical compounds that are unlikely to be natural.
Instead, they look somehow manufactured.
So there are suggestions that this ring and the object that just passed through our solar system may be relics of a past civilization... just passed...solar system... which means that this is no longer a search for life.
It's more about delving into the ancient history of deep space.
[Man speaking French] [Woman speaking Japanese] [Static] ♪ Searching for life in our solar system is one thing, but searching for life beyond, it might be closer to archeology because, you know, we're receiving signals from what may now be dead civilizations.
Searching for extraterrestrial relics is like archeology.
You know, I hope I'm wrong.
I hope that the first sign we have of life is aliens come knocking on our doorstep and they're friendly, but I have to be realistic, too.
I don't think that it's gonna be "Hello!"
"How are you?"
you know, a two-way communication.
I think it's much more likely to be a one-way communication such as we currently have with Shakespeare or the ancient Greeks and the Romans.
We can't ask questions of them, but they have provided us a wealth of information that we can learn from.
♪ Preston: I think if we detect evidence of a single artifact or a single piece of evidence that there is another advanced civilization out there, well, then I think the floodgates are open.
There must be others out there.
Our main problem right now is we are just one datapoint.
We don't know if we're unique, but as soon as we have evidence that it happened somewhere else and that life and intelligent life evolved, well, then it could happen anywhere.
♪ ♪ Hello, good evening.
Well, straightaway let's focus on that all-important cloud cover, tending to break up and translating into clear skies, which of course is great news if there are any amateur astronomers out there wanting one last glimpse of this cosmic visitor.
As we know, we're expecting a few million people to mark the occasion throughout the country over the course of this evening, and that's anywhere from Snowdon/Yr Wyddfa all the way down to Trafalgar Square.
Pretty mass gathering expected there, but a word of warning.
Now can you just see the telltale signs of that cold front up north?
Well, that's expected to sink southwards at quite a pace, so if you are attending an outdoor light vigil, if you're going out tonight, bear this in mind and please wrap up warmly.
♪ Woman: Bueno, venimos porque queremos celebrarlo con todos en todo el mundo.
[Indistinct chatter] Man: Las personas que hicieron este objeto tal vez se mudaron a otro lugar.
Espero que los encontremos algún día.
♪ Kay: Our best guess is that we've encountered an object created by an intelligence that existed over a billion years ago... but our time with it is fleeting.
Today, the Artifact moves out of sight as it makes its way beyond the solar system.
[Cheering] It may be over a million years before it encounters another star or planet.
♪ What we now know, beyond doubt, is that the miracle of complex life is not unique to the Earth... ♪ but how long intelligent civilizations last and if they ever overlap remains unknown.
♪ As of right now, there's still every chance we're alone in the universe... ♪ and that means we have a responsibility to protect what's happened here.
♪ The search for life isn't over.
It's really just beginning.
♪ Borucki: Exploring space to determine the extent of life in our galaxy reminds me very much of what the people in the Middle Ages did.
They believed that one of the great things they could do was build these beautiful cathedrals to worship God.
They knew when they started building these cathedrals they would not live long enough to see these cathedrals in their full glory, to go inside and worship God, but the children or grandchildren would do that.
They had the faith to start, to do the work.
In space exploration, we are doing those first steps.
We are building that foundation... and it's not something that's done in one lifetime.
It's something that humankind does because it has faith that we need and want to explore the universe and find life in our galaxy.
[Whoosh] ♪ ♪ "First Contact: [Radio signals] An Alien Encounter" is available on Amazon Prime Video ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪