Daniela de Paulis initiates the idea for “A Sign in Space” while working on a plan for an art project to upload on a satellite.
Shortly after, she presents the concept to the scientific team at the Medicina Radio Observatory and the Sardinia Radio Telescope (Stelio Montebugnoli, Germano Bianchi and Andrea Melis), affiliated with INAF, the Italian Institute for Astrophysics. The Medicina team offers support to Daniela’s concept and plan.
On 3 June 2020, “A Sign in Space” receives the official endorsement of INAF.
On 5 August 2020, Daniela receives the Baruch Blumberg Fellowship in Astrobiology to develop a “Sign in Space” at the Green Bank Observatory in West Virginia.
Throughout 2020 Daniela starts networking in the satellite industry, following online seminars and learning about key figures in the field. Finally, in February 2021, Giovanni Sylos Labini of Planetek Italia introduces her to Luca Rossettini, CEO of Italian satellite carrier D-Orbit. Luca Rossettini and his team (Mattia Lanzani and Giorgio Garavaglia) shortly after invite Daniela and the INAF team to upload a simulated extraterrestrial message on one their upcoming launches. Daniela selects the Arecibo message for the test.
On 29 June 2022, Daniela presents the project as part of her talk for the SETI conference “Assembly of the Order of the Octopus”, hosted by The Pennsylvania State University
On 30 June 2021, the D-Orbit ‘ION Scv Dauntless David’ satellite launches into space onboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and on 30 July 2021, while orbiting at a distance of approximately 500 km. The satellite transmits the Arecibo message towards Earth from 15:55 to 16:00 CEST.
The Arecibo message transmitted by the D-Orbit satellite, is received by one of the antennas at the Medicina Radio Observatory and by the small, multidirectional Vivaldi antennas at the Sardinia Radio Observatory. This first successful experiment for A Sign in Spaceis reported by a press release issued by Media INAF and D-Orbit.
On 7 July 2022 Daniela presents “A Sign in Space” for SETI Live, as part of an interview with Bettina Forget, director of the SETI Institute Artist in Residency Programme.
On 5 February 2021, thanks to Claudia Mignone, science writer and communicator at INAF, Daniela is introduced to Daniel Scuka, ESA Programme Education Officer. The aim of the meeting is to possibly expand the project through a collaboration with the European Space Agency. Daniel optimistically suggests using the Trace Gas Orbiter, an interplanetary probe orbiting Mars, as a celestial source for the simulated extraterrestrial message. The possibility of using an extraterrestrial source for the signal of the project provides an interesting opportunity for the global SETI researchers community.
In March 2021, Daniel extends the collaboration to retired ESA Spacecraft Operations Manager Paolo Ferri who takes the project further, expanding the scientific team with Tiago Loureiro (ESA Space Operations Engineer), Peter Schmidt (ESA Spacecraft Operations Manager), Olivier Reboud (Mars Express Operation Engineer), Daniel Firre (ESA Ground Operation Engineer), Johannes Bauer (ESA Spacecraft Operations Engineer).
On 27 July 2021 Daniela initiates the monthly meetings with specialists from the fields of SETI, astronomy, astrobiology, philosophy, anthropology, space studies and art. The team of specialists keeps growing over the months, eventually including 28 advisors. The active members of the team are (in order of arrival in the team):
Jörg Matthias Determann
Klara Anna Capova
The monthly meetings help shape the project with the advisors providing some useful feedback and insights into current fields of research related to SETI. The aim of the meetings is also that of generating cutting edge ideas for composing the simulated extraterrestrial signal. As part of the monthly sessions, poet Gregory Betts suggests involving his network in the creative writing community. The monthly sessions end on 2 December 2022.
On 24 March 2022, the project is officially endorsed by the SETI Institute as part of their SETI AiR programme.
On 19 September 2022, Daniela presents “A Sign in Space” as part of the Billingham Cutting Edge Lecture at the International Astronautical Congress in Paris, publishing a paper in collaboration with some of the key scientists.
From 10 October to 9 December 2022, Daniela spends two months at the Green Bank Observatory, where she receives the endorsement of the scientific and outreach staff and telescope time to develop the project using the Green Bank Telescope. During this period, Larry Morgan, scientist at GBO and Steve Croft, astronomy researcher at UC Berkeley, and radio engineer and mathematician Daniel Estévez join the scientific team.
In October 2022 Daniela starts working on the website with scientist and web developer Irene Fabbri.
In November 2022, the team for the outreach and educational activities is formed, meeting twice a month. The team is composed by staff at the SETI Institute, ESA, INAF and GBO, including: Daniel Scuka (Programme Education Officer) Bettina Forget (Director of AiR, SETI Institute), Franck Marchis (planetary astronomer, SETI Institute), Seth Shostak (Senior Astronomer, Science Communicator, SETI Institute), Rebecca McDonald (Director of Communications, SETI Institute), Victoria Catlett (Software Engineer, GBO), Jill Malusky (Public Relations Specialist, GBO), Angela Damery (Public Outreach Manager, GBO), Sarah Olivera (Education and Public Outreach, GBO), Sophie de Saint Georges (Education Specialist, GBO), Claudia Mignone (astrophysicist, science writer and communicator).
The group’s work for the message composition continues through focused weekly meetings starting on 7 December 2022. The group of “simulated extraterrestrials” includes computer scientist and artist Giacomo Miceli, poet Gregory Betts, radio engineer and mathematician Daniel Estévez, physicist and space lawyer Mukesh Bhatt, radio astronomer Roy Smits, astrobiologists Sanjoy Som and Kirt Robinson.
On 14 March 2023, the Medicina Radio Observatory and the Allen Telescope Array take part in the first test, with ESA’s TGO transmitting a message towards Earth. Both observatories successfully receive the signal.
On 3 May 2023, the Green Bank Telescope and the Allen Telescope Array take part in a follow up test, with ESA’s TGO transmitting a message towards Earth. Both observatories successfully receive the signal.
Join us on Discord
Follow the discussion on