Arecibo message, the first human-made interstellar radio text, completes 44th anniversary today

Arecibo message—a unique interstellar radio message first broadcast in 1974 by a group of scientists in the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico. Today, on 16th November 2018, Google marks the anniversary or Arecibo message with a doodle. The doodle has the same colours and wavelength depicting the presence of extraterrestrial beings.

The famous astronomer and astrophysicist Frank Drake with his team of experts sent a message from the Arecibo radio telescope bearing the elementary data on human race from Earth sent to Globular star cluster M13 on 16th November 1974. The Arecibo message was encoded in a hope that some extraterrestrial living being can be collected and decode them. The Arecibo message was transmitted to space via frequency modulated radio waves after the remodeling of Arecibo radio telescope in the middle of the tropical forest of Puerto Rico.

The Arecibo message contained a series of 1,679 binary digits organized in the grid of perfect rectangular arrangement of 73 rows and 23 rows aimed at M13 the largest star in its cluster which is 25,000 lights years way in a three-minute radio note. The size of the Arecibo message was 210 bytes and was transmitted at a frequency of 2,380 MHz. The message consisted the following seven points as details from Earth in a coded format.

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  • The numbers one (1) to ten (10) (white)
  • The atomic numbers of the elements hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and phosphorus, which make up deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) (purple)
  • The formulas for the sugars and bases in the nucleotides of DNA (green)
  • The number of nucleotides in DNA, and a graphic of the double helix structure of DNA (white & blue)
  • A graphic of the Solar System indicating which of the planets the message is coming from (yellow)
  • A graphic of the Arecibo radio telescope and the dimension (the physical diameter) of the transmitting antenna dish (purple, white, & blue)


Dr. Frank Drake, the creator of Drake Equation encoded the message with the help of Carl Sagan, one of the scientists present in the team. After remodeling, the Arecibo radio telescope had a thousand-foot diameter and was considered the largest in the world at that time. The Arecibo message was sent to celebrate the event and to show off the capacity of the Arecibo radio telescope.

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