Sunday, May 30, 2010

Of alien space probes

First of all, get your minds out of the gutter.  When the words "alien" and "probe" are collocated in the same sentence, it tends to conjure up the giggles.  No.  This is a continuation of thoughts from a previous post ("Resistance Is Futile")...or it's just the beer talking.
Are alien civilizations sending remote probes to our planet?  Why not.  We're doing it to them.  In a manner of speaking of course.
Our pairs of deep space probes, the Pioneers and the Voyagers, are all slated to depart our solar system and head deep into parts unknown, never to be seen from again (unless Star Trek The Motion Picture actually does happen.)  The Pioneer probes and the first Voyager are already long gone.  Aboard each one of these travelers is a message to alien civilizations.  There is a gold plaque on Pioneer that was built with durability in mind.  The plaque has depictions of male and female humans along with the Earth's position in the galaxy.  Essentially a road map to come and find us.  The Voyager probes have golden records that contain the sounds of the distant Earth.  Everything from animal noises and sea surf to Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Goode" and a greeting from President Jimmy Carter.  If aliens find the records and decide to land on the White House lawn, I wonder if they'll ask for Jimmy?  They better hurry.  He's looking a bit long in the tooth.
Point is, if we're doing it why wouldn't they?  These NASA probes are destined for other star systems, even if at a sluggish pace and arriving long after their battery lifetimes have expired.  I don't see why Earth couldn't have been visited by similar mechanical constructs, just to satisfy the  of curiosity of its creators.  Except I envision the alien probes to be quite a bit more lively when they reach our planet than when our intrepid explorers reach theirs.  The ET robots are likely to be far more durable due to advanced construction.  Their power source could grant them a far longer lifespan than NASA was able to give to ours.  The probes might even be capable of doing self-repair over the long stretches of space.  Additionally, they might even have advanced artificial intelligence onboard, affording them the ability to "think" for themselves, to duck and weave just beyond our perception.  It's just the logical extension of asking: "if a million year-old civilization like ours can build Voyager and Pioneer probes, what is a 10 million year-old civilization capable of?"
One of the criticisms I've heard of UFO sightings is that many of them boil down to this: I saw a light in the sky moving fast.  Indeed, a probe might look just like that; coming in fast, doing a scan, then departing the pattern.  It could explain much.
Of course the encounters involving humanoids raise entirely different questions.

On my iTunes: The Smiths
On the TV: the Chicago Cubs

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