Rear view.

Rear view.

What is it?

This artwork dimly blinks the “Arecibo message,” a transmission sent towards star cluster Messier 13 from the then-new Arecibo radio telescope in 1974. Though it was considered a “message to aliens,” the Arecibo transmission was brief, less than three minutes in duration, and was sent only once. It was a demonstration of the telescope creators’ technical prowess more than an earnest attempt to advertise humanity.

The Arecibo message is binary and can be decoded to a 23x73 pixel image. The message itself included encoded descriptions of the human body, DNA, our solar system, and base-10 number system, among other things. It is unclear how clearly it could be interpreted by beings unlike us.

“Gateway” blinks its message about every eighteen hours. The message itself is around 25 minutes in duration, at 1 bit/second.

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