Group files at FCC to send messages toward planets outside the solar system

A group launching a search for extraterrestrial intelligence awaits approval of an application it’s filed at the FCC for an experimental radio license. Such searches generally focus on seeking evidence of other life based on what’s received. This one is sending messages. More specifically, “project objectives include the establishment of a communications link capable of being received” at planet outside the solar system.

The application from Jamesburg Earth Station Technologies, LLC (JEST) was received by the FCC on February 26, and includes several exhibits. The group intends to transmit using the Jamesburg Earth Station (JES), a retired facility featuring a 98-foot dish antenna that was built in 1968 to support the Apollo 11 moon landing. (You can find some photos of the facility here.) Narrowband transmissions will be sent in the range of 6725.000-6725.250 MHz, a region of the spectrum generally used for satellite and fixed-microwave communications.

Both FM and continuous wave (CW) modulation will be used. The CW signal will be pulsed for identification purposes, and a 128 kHz bandwidth FM signal will carry message data.

Transmission power is to be 2 kilowatts “at the antenna flange.” Effective radiated power, which takes into account the gain of the antenna, is specified as 6300 megawatts peak.

The servers originating the transmitted data are “New York based” and connected to the isolated earth station, in part, using VSAT. An exhibit provides other equipment details:

The local server provides remote control and programming of the Vertex 7210 antenna controller, the ICOM ID‐1 modulator, the Cross Technologies upconverter and 2 kW transmitter. In addition, an on‐site satellite engineer will be monitoring all equipment operation during periods that the antenna is in motion and is transmitting. All technical and operational aspects of the project will also be remotely monitored and controlled by an independent third party engineering company with direct satellite connections to the uplink facility.

An exhibit describes the nature of the data transmissions:

The transmissions will include a header that is encoded according to a proprietary language based upon fundamental principles of physics and mathematics. Such an encoding scheme could theoretically be deciphered any [sic] observers familiar with radio astronomy. These transmissions will also serve as a time capsule because any information encoded with this proprietary scheme will persist in distant space long after human civilization. This transmission experiment represents a continuation and improvement of scientific efforts at searching for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) through radio astronomy. A number of similar broadcasts have been conducted over the past fifty years, the most famous of which is “Project Ozma” of 1960, transmitted from the Arecibo radio observatory by astrophysicist Frank Drake. Today we now know of thousands of planets orbiting other stars, an observation unknown to Drake and his contemporaries. JEST would like to use JES to make similar intentional transmissions as Drake and his colleagues, but toward stars known or suspected to harbor extra solar planets

Those acronyms put me on yellow alert, but this seems to be a legitimate effort. A prominent DC communications law firm, which doesn’t fool around, is listed on the application as a contact.

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