Follow the Decoding Process

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12 June 2024

Finally, after more than one year since launching the project, on 7 June 2024 at 21:50 CEST the message we designed for A Sign in Space has been successfully decoded by John and Sarah (names have been changed for privacy), a father and daughter team, who wish to remain anonymous for now.
John submitted the solution with these words: “My decoded message is a simple image with 5 amino acids displayed in a universal (hopefully) organic molecular diagram notation and a few single pixel points that appear between the clusters and molecular diagrams. I used a Margolus reversible 2x2 block cellular automata (BCA) [Continue reading...]

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5 June 2024

Citizen scientist Gianfranco De Vito has created a database with all contents shared on Discord over one year of decoding process for A Sign in Space. This database has the ambitious objective of organising more than 54,000 posts, allowing people who join the decoding process at a later stage to follow and build upon the knowledge created so far. The database is public and can be accessed outside of Discord.

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4 December 2023

As the decoding continues, it has become increasingly challenging summarising the various ideas created around the message by the Discord community over the past seven months. Some new decoders have joined, some have left, some are taking a pause, some are producing new ideas and visualisation efforts. Several Discord users have been especially active in the decoding effort: Impla007 has been generating many fascinating visuals experimenting with symmetrical shapes and various spatial orientations of the binary code. Humisevat Kunnaat has been creating various experimental sonification of the message; Luna started planning a Human Message to communicate with a potential extraterrestrial civilisation, combining both the collective and individual perspectives.

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Content by Impla007/Georges Attard

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Content by Impla007/Georges Attard

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Content by Impla007/Georges Attard

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16 October 2023

The Discord community has been studying the European standards for satellite transmissions and has applied this new knowledge to the decoding of the message. New theories around the structure of the message emerge.
Discord user Luna claims there is no single solution to the message as data can be interpreted in many different ways; Lokie imagines how a cat would interpret the message and writes a short science fiction story inspired by the decoding process; Impla007 projects the "Star Map" onto spherical coordinates system.

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23 September 2023

Updates on the decoding process: some participants on Discord compare the pixels of the "Star Map" with whales clicks. Another participant overlaps the pixels with stars in M44. A collaborative approach starts prevailing over the individual pursuit.

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17 September 2023

Could the message be a call for help from the inhabitants of Fomalhaut b, a planet that dissolved after an asteroid collision?
"I thought of a request for help from the inhabitants of a small planet that they would have liked to save but which unfortunately no longer exists." Thank you Rosanna D'Agostino for the fascinating theory around the "Star Map".
Graphic artwork: Rosanna D'Agostino.

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22 August 2023

Members of the Discord community continue analising the header and footer of the message, creating holograms and other physical representations of what looks like a star map. A decoder is converting the star map into soundscapes. Although a community of 200-300 people is online at any given time of the day, posts in the interpretation-chat become fewer as people take a much needed break or a mental pause from the decoding process.

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9 August 2023

Updates on the decoding process: More 3D forms are explored, could the message be something meant to be reconstructed in the real world? Various generations meet to find possible meanings. Is the message meant to be read on a sphere?

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7 August 2023

Updates on the decoding process: a variety of ideas are still being explored without a specific direction. Some of the interesting experiments include more physical representations of the message through paper maquettes. The community questions if the message resembles a riddle. Humour glimpses into the chat.

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1 August 2023

The interpretation chat on Discord has been very active over the past few days. Some decoders are taking the message into physical forms, sketching the numbers down or creating origami. Folds and symmetries are tested to reveal the possible content of the message. Literary references from science and poetry dot the interpretation chat.

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25 July 2023

Members of the Discord community suggest creating a performance within the current performance, inspired by the decoding process. New treads emerge, exploring sonification possibilities of the message, analysing the header and footer and more. Another member of the community suggests creating a Wiki to structure all ideas and hypotheses presented so far. The interpretation-chat now exceeds 10,000 posts and it is becoming increasingly challenging to summarise all ideas and meanings created around the message. Many hours have been spent on the decoding process...

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18 July 2023

Chat GPT is used to interpret the message, producing some electronic poetry: could the message say "do come here…enjoy the journey"? Other members of the Discord community continue exploring the theory of Cellular Automata; some interesting conversations take place; Sleepless Nights are spent finding an interpretation.

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15 July 2023

The theory of the message being a cellular automata is revived. A new thread for this theory is started. Could the message be a quest for help from the character in Calvino's novel, in the language of cellular automata?

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12 July 2023

The Discord community continues exploring 3D renderings of the message. Some theories directly link the message to Calvino's novel. One decoder suggests going back to the original data. Could the message be a reply to the Arecibo message? Some people keep decoding the message while on holiday.

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5 July 2023

The technical questioning continues raising questions on the possible sensory tools of extraterrestrial beings; on the decoding and interpretation of a cuneiform clay tablet versus that of an alien signal; on the artistic, performative role of all participants in the decoding and interpretation process.

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29 June 2023

The community on Discord debates whether the message has been completely misunderstood from the start. Suggestions are made to start looking at the raw data from scratch. Some playful suggestions arise: could the message be a recipe for an interstellar omelette?

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28 June 2023

The Discord community presents various visual and dynamic interpretations of the message as Star Map/ Cellular Automaton. The header and footer are the centre of attention. New threads are created to help organise ideas emerging from the process.

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26 June 2023

Approximately 300 people on Discord keep discussing various possibilities around the idea of a Star Map, combining both creative interpretations and mathematical language. Scientific ideas merge with philosophical questionings. The main interpretation avenues keep happening in the interpretation-chat and in the 44 subthreads.

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23 June 2023

The Discord community continues discussing various possibilities of interpretation of the header and footer, producing various types of images. The process triggers questions on the possible workings of an alien mind. Some participants self-organise in a new thread called "interpretation-gone-mild" for the "technically-challenged", attempting an interpretation that does not rely on technical skills.

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9 June 2023

In the interpretation chat, users discuss their ongoing attempts to decipher a message found within a 256x256 starmap. User xenoisx suggests that the starmap's header information could provide important context, including coordinates, for understanding the image. They explore possible connections to chemistry, DNA structure, and numerical systems in the header values. The conversation also touches on the transmission and reception of interstellar messages, including potential challenges in decoding such signals.

* This summary was generated by AI

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User xenoisx shares findings on pixel block patterns within the starmap and wonders if these repeating structures have any hidden meaning. They also highlight similarities between certain images and speculate on possible bonding structures. User Sparta | Phrenic discusses the idea that the header values could be related to molecular structures, though they caution that there are many possible combinations of atoms in a molecule.
The chat participants explore various approaches to interpreting the starmap and its header, discussing potential connections to coordinate systems, chemistry, numerical systems, and more. They acknowledge the many potential interpretations of the message, acknowledging the difficulty and complexity of their task. However, the conversation ultimately does not settle on a definitive answer.

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6 June 2023

The general public has been invited to find and decode a simulation of an alien message from space. The response has been overwhelming. In the initial stage people have analysed the telescope data and managed to extract a binary sequence that represents the message. They soon realised that the message consists of a header, a body and a footer.

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As of yet, the header and footer of the message remain elusive.
The body of the message however, has been recognised as a two-dimensional image, which has been denoted as a "starmap", even though it is not yet certain that it does indeed represent a map.

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People from all different backgrounds have studied the starmap with a range of methods. Suggestions for this map include astronomical objects such as pulsars, star-clusters, supernova, or other bright objects. But rather than an image, it has been suggested that the body should be interpreted as sound, or perhaps a frequency spectrum.

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More recently people have even started to explore a possible relationship between the message and the behavior of honeybees and other insects. These creative ideas emerge from a collaboration on the Discord server where hundreds of people from the general public have organised themselves adapting a scientific approach.

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There is a main discussion board, where everyone can share their contributions and questions regarding the deciphering of the message. Alongside this board dozens of threads have emerged that allow exploration of specific ideas, just like we see in the scientific community.

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5 June 2023

Participants are utilizing various approaches to analyze and decipher the message, examining its possible significance in terms of music, spatial representations, and binary sequences.
Efforts have been made to demodulate the message and recover its digital data. Participants have been discussing the implications of various byte sizes and their potential significance, noting that patterns within the data may be relevant. Some are working with raw data, while others are considering potential visual and auditory interpretations. Conversations are ongoing, with a range of theories and perspectives being explored.

* This summary was generated by AI
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Participants involved in decoding and interpreting the message are pursuing diverse approaches:
1. Musical interpretation: Some participants speculate that the message might convey information through musical representation or mathematical correlations between musical notes. They discuss the possibility of converting sequences from the data into pitches or frequencies, exploring potential relationships between these values and their potential meaning.

2. Spatial representation: One participant suggests creating a 3D chart of the message based on the assumption that distances between the stars can be represented as ratios. They believe that a 3D chart could help identify the position of the sender within the galaxy relative to other stars.

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3. Sequence length analysis: Another participant focuses on analyzing the lengths of sequences of 0s and 1s within the message, searching for patterns or recognizable structures.

4. Examining patterns in binary sequences: Several discussions revolve around the possibility of decoding the message by considering different byte sizes and examining patterns within the data that may appear to have meaning. Participants experiment with different byte groupings and their potential significance.

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5. Using existing data protocols: Some participants explore existing protocols, such as the CAN bus and UDS requests, to find possible correlations with the message data.

6. Fast Fourier Transform: There have been attempts to apply Fast Fourier Transform on the message to extract underlying patterns or structures.

These approaches indicate that participants in the project come from varied backgrounds and bring their unique perspectives to the table. They continue to collaborate and explore different theories and interpretations to uncover potential meanings within the message.

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4 June

The participants continue to propose and discuss some new theories about the message interpretation. Some of the older and less popular theories begin fading out, and others still attract attention. Here are some of the new ideas seen today in Discord.
Carefully studying the locations of the "stars" in the five clusters in the "starmap" reveals some subtle patterns.

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After a series of transformations, a sequence of four prime numbers appears from the message data.

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Polynesian wayfinding. This has probably been inspired by one of the workshops of the project. If the message were to show us a way to navigate by using the stars, we would need to know what is the starting location for the message.
In a related topic, some participants consider how astronomical objects could be used to describe a location in the universe. The objects cannot be too near, or they would appear differently to different observers because of parallax. They cannot be too far either, because there are too many places to where a telescope could be pointed, and all look alike. A satellite galaxy of the Milky Way, such as the Large Magellanic Cloud might be ideal. Following this topic, other participants consider the possibility of using the Pleiades to calibrate cosmic distance.

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3 June 2023

The number of threads about different interpretations of the message keeps growing. Ideas get mixed as connections appear between topics that were independent at first. Conversations get tangled. It is even a bit difficult to keep track of everything that is happening at once.
A new idea that has appeared today is the prevalence of the number 5 in the message. The representation of the message "body" as the "starmap" has 5 clusters of dots, and the footer contains the sequence of bits 111110000011111.

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Some participants are linking the number 5 to the short story A Sign in Space by Italo Calvino, from which the name of this project is taken.
In that story, 5 signs appear at some point. There have been even some attempts to give descriptive names to the 5 cluster in the "starmap": a star, a hummingbird, a mouse, something shapeless, and a very spiky star.

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Another new idea is that the message could be the coordinates to a vast intergalactic library of universal knowledge.

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2 June 2023

Could the Message be a mouse?
Click here to join the Discord interpretation community

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Now that the message is confirmed, dozens of different theories about its interpretation have appeared. Each of them has its own dedicated thread in the #interpretation-chat channel in Discord, which now is much more active than ever. Here are some of the different topics seen around.
Does the Fourier transform give any useful information? This is similar to the pattern that you would get if you perforated the message on a piece of cardboard and shined light through it, due to diffraction.

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Does the message match the absorption spectrum of some chemical element?

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Is there any information encoded in how the message was split into pieces for transmission?

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1 June 2023

The A Sign in Space Message.
Click here to go to Discord

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A dedicated group consisting of most of the active posters in ⁠decode-data-filter has converged on a very compelling message candidate.

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31 May 2023

The participants are now much more confident that the message is a binary file of 8212 bytes that was transmitted in 1800 pieces of 4 and 8 bytes. They also notice that Johannes Bauer, from ESA, had mentioned in the launch event that the message was transmitted with a command file of 1800 commands. The participants now set to document thoroughly all their work, so that people interpreting the message can know where the data came from and how it was processed.
Still, there are many things that are not clear about this strong message candidate. Is the "starmap" representation the correct one? Should it be plotted in color somehow? Is it even intended to be presented as an image? They also wonder about the pieces of 4 and 8 bytes. Does the size of the pieces mean anything?

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31 May 2023

One participant has found that the headers in TGO's space packets, which were mostly overlooked before, use an ESA protocol called PUS. These headers tell us something about the meaning of each packet: its purpose, and the kind of data it contains. With this new information, the participants quickly uncover the meaning of each of the packet "types" (APIDs) that appeared when the message reception began. APID 0017, which was considered as the main candidate for containing the message is seen to contain "memory dumps" from the spacecraft. The other APIDs contain information about the commands that the spacecraft executed to generate the memory dumps.

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30 May 2023

A large part of the conversation still revolves around the "star-map". Could it be pulsars? Active galactic nuclei? Molecular clouds? Maybe it is related to TGO's star tracker? These are cameras on the spacecraft that look at the stars to find how the spacecraft is oriented. In parallel, there are attempts to visualize the same data in a completely different way.
Also there is talk about whether some checksums could be intended to describe the absorption spectrum of a star or planet. These usually tell us much about their chemical composition. To sort out the files and code they are producing and the documentation they are using, some participants have assembled a repository in Github. It is very well organized, and it can help others to understand the previous steps in more detail.
Guithub link:

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No matter in which frames the data is...

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29 May 2023

The participants continue to analyze the data in the three APIDs ("packet types") which are considered the most likely to contain the message. One of the three APIDs (the one numbered as 0x17) has received the most attention. When arranged in a particular way, some of the data in these packets forms a square image of size 256x256, with dots arranged in some clouds. What is this? The Pleiades? Another star cluster pointing to the location of the extraterrestrial intelligence? These are some of the ideas considered, but no one is quite sure. This image has been labeled as the best candidate found so far by some participants, but meanwhile the effort continues to explore other parts of the data and to find other possible ways to interpret the APID 0x17 packets.

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The Pleiades

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APID 0017 stripping the packets

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APID 0017

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Decoding state of the art pt.2

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Decoding state of the art pt.1

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28 May 2023

Noticing that part of the data was missing from earlier decoding attempts, the participants make some improvements to their approach and decode again the Green Bank Telescope SigMF recording. Now they carefully check the frame sequence numbers and CRCs to ensure that no data has been lost or corrupted. Plotting how the number of space packets in each APID ("packet type") increases over time, the participants notice that there are three APIDs that start transmitting packets only at the beginning of the message reception time on Earth (19:00 UTC plus a delay of about 16 minutes). They focus on the data in each of these APIDs, looking for patterns and producing visualizations and statistical analyses. Since the contents of the telemetry frames and space packets are solid at this stage, the organizers publish this information as the current state-of-the-art of the decoding process, allowing newcomers to join the decoding more easily.

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27 May 2023

The participants are studying the data in the space packets from different points of view. They try to find patterns, and plot the data in different ways. Some of the participants are still working on the earlier stages of the decoding process, with the SigMF recordings. They want to manage to decode them on their own to understand how this can be done. Other participants help them set up the software to do this.

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26 May 2023

The organizers have hinted that the message is in the telemetry signal of TGO, intermixed with other data that is sent normally by the spacecraft. The participants now try to decode the telemetry signal. They have identified the CCSDS protocols used by TGO and obtained a binary file containing telemetry frames, and then produced another binary file containing the space packets which are contained in these frames. To make the space packet data more accessible, they have also made a CSV file which lists the sequence number, APID (roughly "type" of packet), length and contents of each space packet.

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25 May 2023

The SigMF recordings made at the Allen Telescope Array, Green Bank Telescope and Medicina Observatory have been made available for download. The participants have explored these recordings using different software. They have produced different visualizations and sonifications, and they have looked carefully at the spectrum of the radio frequency signal trying to find hidden signals.

Archive of the whole decoding and interpreting process in this page.

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Join us on the online (free) platform Discord, where the debate around decoding and interpreting the message is ongoing, with people from all over the world exchanging their thoughts while attempting to discover the signal's content.


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