Beam Me Up, Scotty:Tweeting Into Space

If you were to tweet a message into space, what would you say? I’d want to riff off “The X-Files’” famous tagline: “The truth is out there,” and possibly combine it with iconic “Star Trek” quotes. But I have to make contact using 140 characters. Here’s why.

To draw attention for the National Geographic Channel series “Chasing UFOs,” where scientists and UFO researchers seek additional answers to unexplained UFO sightings, Campfire launched a social media campaign asking viewers to respond to The Wow Signal, a 72-second transmission that scientists picked up from outer space… in 1977! Thirty-five years later, a response is coming with “The Wow Reply.”

During the series premiere of “Chasing UFOs,” believers and nonbelievers, were invited to tweet their own, personalized reply to The Wow Signal using the hashtag #ChasingUFOs.

Tens of thousands of messages were then organized and streamed during future “Chasing UFOs” episodes. On August 15, the 35th anniversary of The Wow Signal, fan messages will be beamed into space via radar transmitter in Puerto Rico.

In addition to the tweets, a collection of 72-second videos, created by the likes of Stephen Colbert, Jorge Garcia of “Lost “and Miss Universe Leila Lopes, will be sent into space.

A timeline of tweets can be found on the Wow Reply website, along with other historical attempts at making alien contact.

“When the National Geographic Channel team shared the concept of the show my mind immediately flashed to the concept of first contact with other civilizations,” said Steve Coulson, Partner/Creative Director at Campfire. “I also realized that we were coming up on the 35th anniversary of one of the most compelling pieces of hard evidence for alien intelligence - the famous Wow! Signal. Then, the phrase ‘kind of like a tweet from space’ came to mind. From there it was a natural progression to ‘well, shouldn't we reply?’”

Audience replies have been both serious and amusing, but most replies are written with tongue firmly planted in cheek: “You have mastered intergalactic travel & communications. We created Snooki...” “Last time you were here, you forgot Nikki Minaj and Lady Gaga behind. They're ready for pick up” and “Hello to the universe, we have cats, cheeseburgers and much pie.”

To transmit the messages, “We're going to be using the enormous radar transmitter at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, which is the largest single aperture telescope ever built,” said Coulson. “If we want our transmission to be received by another civilization, Arecibo is our best bet.”

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