1st ‘interstellar tourism campaign’ urges aliens to visit Lexington, Kentucky (Image Credit: Space.com)
Hey, aliens! Lexington, Kentucky would be a good place to spend your next deep-space vacation.
This was the message that a group of Kentucky scientists, linguists and scholars recently beamed at the TRAPPIST-1 system, which lies 40 light-years from Earth and harbors multiple potentially habitable planets.
The missive represented the very first interstellar travel advertisement, according to VisitLEX, the group behind the effort.
Related: The search for alien life
VisitLEX’s tourism team at the Lexington Convention and Visitors Bureau partnered with the Cornett ad agency to devise a playful campaign with sci-fi flavor. The team used a modified infrared laser to deliver a specially coded message, which was approved by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration.
Here are details from the VisitLEX press release:
“When the message reaches its destination in 2063, TRAPPIST-1 inhabitants will find a coded bitmap image with clues as to its origin and intent of the transmission. They’ll also see bucolic photos of the Horse Capital of the World, noting the wide-open spaces perfect for landing a spacecraft. They’ll learn why Lexington has the best food, bourbon and music on Earth — getting a taste via an audio recording from legendary blues musician Tee Dee Young.”
If E.T. does eventually receive the message and pack their bags for our solar system, eager to take in The Bluegrass State’s hospitality, thoroughbred race horses and bourbon industry, they’ll have to cover 235 trillion miles (378 trillion kilometers) to get here. That’s a bit of a trip, but who knows how fast their craft can go?
“We are targeting the TRAPPIST-1 system because we might actually get an answer in somebody’s lifetime if there’s somebody there watching,” said astrobiologist and SETI (search for extraterrestrial intelligence) scientist Robert Lodder. “But the reason scientists have been interested in it lately is because of the large number of planets it has in what is considered to be the habitable zone. So, there could be life there. Why not send a signal and see if they answer?”
This message was sent last month from Lexington’s Kentucky Horse Park museum and event center, during a festive evening ceremony that drew a sign-waving crowd.
“The bitmap image is the key to it all. We included imagery representing the elements of life, our iconic Lexington rolling hills and the molecular structure for water, bourbon and even dopamine … because Lexington is fun!” added linguistics expert Andrew Byrd.