September 2, 2004

Mystery of Radio Signal From Space

A RADIO transmission from outer space could be a message from aliens, say astronomers.

The signal - named SHGbo2+14a - has been beamed to Earth three times since 2002 and picked up by the giant Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico.

Scientists have not been able to properly analyse it as it is only about a minute long and very weak.

Experts from the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (Seti) say it is unlikely to be interference or a hoax.

Others claim aliens wanting to send messages - like Steven Spielberg's ET who tried to phone home - would transmit via a physical object because radio signals break up during space travel.

But Seti researcher Eric Korpela of the University of California, insisted: "We are looking for something that screams out 'artificial'. But I can't think of any way to make a signal like this."

The Seti project uses software running as screensavers on millions of computers to sift through the data from the Arecibo telescope.

The frequency of the signal is one which experts argue extraterrestrials would be most likely to use if they wanted to make contact, the New Scientist reported.