Popular social networking site Bebo is to send 500 messages to Gliese 581c, which is the nearest planet outside our solar system. The planet, 20.5 light years away, will recieve 500 messages, created by Bebo users and celebrities, in time for 2029.  Users can send images and text to the planet, and voting will take place to select the best. They will then be handed to the National Space Agency of Ukraine, who will send them to the planet through the RT-70 radar telescope, on October 9.

Voting is currently taking place and it will end on September 30. The highest rating messages, be they images or text, will be then sent to Ukraine. It is believed to be the first time that members of the public have had the opportunity to send messages for free, and they expected to reach the planet in around 20 years time. The planet is thought to be able to hold life forms.

I personally think that this is an interesting idea, but I believe that there is too much doubt around if it will work or not. For example, maybe we may have already developed  a system to send messages quicker than this in the next 20 years, or we may have already came into contact with other life forms. There is no guarentee that, if there are any aliens out there, they will be able to read English to interpret written messages, or be able to understand images.

The images themselves are very bad quality, black and white and pixilated. I am guessing that this must have something to do with the radar technology of the telescope and how it must not be able to send high resolution pictures. How will the images and text reach the planet, and there isn’t even any guarentees that there is life. People remember about this project and how will we know if any aliens have recieved the messages, or if they can interpret them. It’s no use sending messages in English if, if there is any life forms out there, they speak Klingon.

In short, for the amount of money, time and effort that must be getting put into this project, with a lot of doubt and very little guarentees, I think that this, although an interesting project, may be a waste. The data transmission will take four and a half hours and will cost £20,000 GBP or $40,000 USD.

What do you think? Are Bebo completely barking mad, or is this an interesting project that may work? Do you have any concerns about it, or are you looking forward to seeing if it actually works? Have you submitted message, will you be voting? Let the community know, in a comment.