Last January 20, a European space probe awoke from deep sleep to prepare for an unprecedented rendezvous with a comet to climax its ten-year voyage through the solar system.
The Rosetta spacecraft, which has been in hibernation for two and a half years, sent its first signal two days ago, amid the cheering personnel at the European Space Agency. The spacecraft, emerged from it deep slumber after preparing by switching on its heaters to warm itself after years of cold temperatures in deep space.
After several hours, Rosetta finally sent its signal, as scientists and personnel cheer, ending the long hours of anxiety.
“We got confirmation!” Antonio Aca, Rosetta’s chief spacecraft controller, exclaimed. “We are 100% online”
The initial signal was received by NASA’s Deep Space Network at 1:18 p.m. ET (1818 GMT) and relayed to ESA’s Space Operations Center in Darmstadt, Germany, erupting in applause and cheers as the signal was confirmed.
However, hours of jubilation and celebration turned into excitement and curiosity this morning, when an unexpected signal was received from the probe. The signal was received from the single-side band of the transmission and was cryptic in the beginning. Scientists could not figure it out at first, but a senior communications specialist visiting from NASA was able to amplify the signal to make it audible to the entire control room.
The signal seemed like a series of long and short bursts of static, but after filtering the signal, it became apparent that it was artificial in nature, and that it was definitely sent by an intelligent life form.
The long and short bursts where relayed to the European Space Agency’s Space Operations Center in Darmstadt, Germany, as a series of dots and dashes, similar to Morse code, and as follows:
-.-. - - - -. --. .-. .- - ..- .-.. .- - .. --- -. ...
The European Space Agency’s Space Operations Center posted a message on their Twitter account, saying they will try to decipher the message, but also have asked the public for help.