‘Alien’ message from Mars has finally been solved one year on

  • Over 4,000 people tried to decode the message from outer space
  • In the end, a father and daughter were the ones to crack the code
  • The message’s meaning still hasn’t been interpreted

Published on Jun 14, 2024 at 9:46 PM (UTC+4)
by Ben Thompson

Last updated on Jun 15, 2024 at 11:06 AM (UTC+4)
Edited by Amelia Jean Hershman-Jones

‘Alien’ message from Mars has finally been solved one year on

An ‘alien’ message from Mars has been decoded after a year.

The message was created by the artist in residence at the SETI Institute, Daniela de Paulis, who sought to simulate an alien signal.

Despite being created here on Earth, it really did have an other-worldly origin.

READ MORE! SpaceX Starship achieves groundbreaking ocean landing

What we know about the alleged alien message

The project, named ‘A Sign In Space’, was sent from the European Space Agency’s ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter.

It was received on May 24, 2023, and a challenge was announced for others to decode it.

Over 4,000 people from around the world took up the task.

On June 7, the correct solution was found by an anonymous father-and-daughter team.

How it was figured out

They theorized that the message had a connection with a renowned computation model called the ‘cellular automation’.

In this model, pixels can be considered ‘alive’ or ‘dead’ and evolve under specific rules.

John and Sarah used it to go through the message of one and zeros (alive and dead pixels) to find something of meaning.

Using the Unity game engine, they ran the message through 6,625 transformations to turn it into something intelligible.

It turned out that it was an image of five amino acids.

Each one was represented by a block of different numbered pixels – one for hydrogen, six for carbon, seven for nitrogen, and eight for oxygen.

De Paulis had intended this experiment to mimic what humanity would face if they actually received an alien signal.

First, there’ll be the challenge of knowing how to decode the message.

Then, it’ll be on us to figure out what the message itself means.

As well as unknown things from space, science has also helped us to decipher messages from the past – like this student who used AI to translate an ‘unreadable’ ancient Roman scroll for the first time ever.

A Discord server has been set up to serve as a hub for discussing and decoding the signal.

Since last year, there have been over 54,000 messages relating to the project.

It is hoped that many more people will join to discuss and propose possible meanings of the signal.

And it’s not the only extraterrestrial communication we’ve come across recently, NASA sent 500 pet photos into space using laser beams.

Plus there’s a new  ‘forever’ library on the moon that could last billions of years and outlast civilization.

# Tags - Earth, Space


Ben Thompson

Ben got his start in journalism at Kennedy News and Media, writing stories for national newspapers, websites and magazines. Now working as a freelancer, he divides his time between teaching at News Associates and writing for news sites on all subjects.