The Kentucky tourist board is hoping to attract alien visitors (Picture: Getty/Nasa/JPL-CalTech/T Pyle)
Now, a state in the US famous for its music and whisky is trying to change that.
The Kentucky tourism board is hoping extraterrestrial (ET) visitors can be drawn to the horse-mad hub of Lexington, the 30th largest city in the US.
To encourage some very long-distance visitors, they have beamed a welcome signal at the Trappist-1 system, a mere 40 light-years from Earth and home to a number of planets many think could harbour alien life.
The message, the first interstellar holiday advert (sent from Earth at least) was created by VisitLex, although did not confirm where or how they could exchange currency.
It contains a coded image not only showing the usual elements of essential information for intelligent beings – prime numbers, the elements of life – but also the chemical elements needed to make the state’s famous bourbon, an iconic Kentucky landscape and, of course, horses.
A Kentucky tourist board is looking further afield for customers
‘When the message reaches its destination, Trappist-1 inhabitants will find a coded bitmap image with clues as to its origin and intent of the transmission,’ the VisitLex team said.
‘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.’
The message was sent out using a modified infrared laser, but only after getting permission from the Federal Aviation Administration.
The message welcoming aliens to Lexington (Picture: VisitLex)
Kentucky is famed for its horses and bourbon (Picture: Getty/iStockphoto)
But if you’re hoping to bump into an alien or two while watching the Kentucky Derby or the Great American Brass Band Festival, you’ll have to wait.
The signal will only arrive at Trappist-1 in 2063. And if it does the job and tempts a few ET tourists, who knows how long it will take them to cover the roughly 235 trillion miles or so back? On the plus side, they’ll surely have time for a few good films on the flight.
Trappist-1 is one of the most studied systems outside of our own neighbourhood. Nasa has observed seven rocky exoplanets orbiting a cool red dwarf star, several in the habitable zone where it is neither too hot nor too cold for liquid water to form – essential for life to form.
‘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 Robert Lodder, from the University of Kentucky.
The Trappist-1 system (Picture: Nasa/JPL-Caltech
Lexington probably looks a little different (Picture: Getty)
‘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?’
The message, beamed from Lexington’s International Museum of the Horse, was sent in peace – something those attending a ceremony to celebrate the event hope will be returned.
Dr Brenna Byrd, an expert in languages and linguistics, said: ‘Come to Lexington! We have horses and bourbon. Just don’t eat us.’
If there are possible extraterrestrials scanning the skies for potential holiday destinations, let’s hope they didn’t pick up any TV signals reporting sightings of aliens in a Miami mall earlier this month. A heavy police presence didn’t give off welcoming vibes.
But where would they exchange their currency?