The technology and commitment behind the transmitting the movie “The Day The Earth Stood Still” into Deep Space.
When Twentieth Century Fox originally contacted Deep Space Communications Network they asked for us to beam the signal to an exoplanet planet that had been found in the last few months. We immediately explained the difficulties of hitting objects in space and that we did not have the capability to accurately calculate paths to hit specific targets and so we at DSCN DO NOT make any guarantees about where the signal goes.
Many may think that you simply point your transmission dish at target over four light years away and it goes there. This is incorrect. First of all, the point you are looking at is many years
old. You could point and then listen to four year old information because that is an accurate target right now, but sending a signal there is more complicated. Targeting a transmission to a point in space involves projecting years of movement during the long duration of time the transmission has to travel; the earth is rotating so you would need a computer controlled dish that moves to counter acts the earth’s movement (during a 2 hour transmission the earth turns about 5 degrees); as the signal travels it will may encounter magnet fields and other items that affect the transmissions path, amplitude and clarity. A simple example of how complicated this may be would be the old example of trying to throw a ball to someone on the other side of
a merry-go-round. If you threw it straight at the person you would miss them because you would be throwing the ball where they were not where the person or target will be when the ball arrives. So, even if we at DSCN beamed straight at Alpha Centauri as Oberg suggests there would be no guarantee the signal would go there. This why in the Deep Space Communications Network contract with for transmission with Twentieth Century Fox there was no guarantee to target any specific location.
Alpha Centauri is on the closest stars to earth, but it is quite low (about 1 degree) above the horizon here at Cape Canaveral and as I explained to Seth Shostak we could not and would not point a transmission that low in elevation as it would potentially interfere with terrestrial microwave.
What DSCN did tell Fox was that the signal would most likely travel three to four light years, which is the distance several astronomers and engineers, not working for DSCN, have calculated our transmissions would travel. During contract negotiations with Fox they asked a number of questions: how far is three to four light years, would the signal go as far as Pluto, and if so how long would it take to get there, so I sent them the chart below.
Planets & Galaxies Destination Distance from Earth (light-years) Time
at Light Speed
Moon 0.000000038 1.1991888 seconds
Sun 0.000016 8.41536 minutes
Mercury 0.0000095 4.99662 minutes
Venus 0.00000476 2.5035696 minutes
Mars 0.0000076 3.997296 minutes
Jupiter 0.0000666 35.028936 minutes
Saturn 0.000135 1.18341 hours
Uranus 0.000285 2.49831 hours
Neptune 0.00046 4.03236 hours
Pluto 0.0006183 5.4200178 hours
Alpha Centauri 4.27 4.27 years
In the press release they sent me to review for my quote Fox had included this chart. The release/chart had Alpha Centauri on it, but in the press release DSCN reviewed the release DID NOT state the signal would get to any of the places listed on the chart. Maybe by including the chart, Fox implied the signal was going there, but sending the signal to Alpha Centauri was never really discussed by FOX or DSCN.
Deep Space Communications Network does not imply or try to imply that DSCN is related to NASA and nothing could be further from the truth. If you go to our website www.deepspacecom.net you will find the following statement right on our home page: Deep Space Communications Network is a private organization located right next to
the Kennedy Space Center. DSCN was formed specifically to communicate with outer-space by a group of broadcast engineers and communications experts that regularly transmit from the space center. I think you will have to agree that we are very clear that DSCN is private organization. Our facility is located in the City of Cape Canaveral. These are facts. We have registered our name with the State of Florida and we do not mislead our clients about the services we provide.