How Do We Establish Contact?Unfortunately we are quite limited in our search for life outside the solar system. Even if TV shows like Star Trek are now part of some cultural common denomiator of western countries, it is very unlikely that we will soon be traveling even to the nearest star system, Alpha Centauri, which is about 4 light years away.
A spaceship traveling at the speed of light will take 4 years to reach the star. With off-the-shelf satellites, travel is much slower, see section "Interstellar Travel". Another much more advanced civilization might have the capability to travel at speed close to the speed of light. There are many folks out there who believe that we have been vistited by aliens already. Are you one of them? Then go back to "Search" and select the section "Aliens!"
There is another way of making contact with life outside the Solar System: by sending and, possibly, receiving messages. This is actually the main focus of the work going on at the S.E.T.I. Institute. In order to establish communication with ETs living on other solar systems we need to think about what to say, and how to say it.
Have you ever tried to communicate with someone who could not speak
your language? Think about that experience, and focus on how much you
relied on common forms of unspoken language, such as body language. Would
you be able to do the same again over the phone? Now think of
communicating with beings that, possibly, do not even share your same
biochemistry... how much can you rely on "common grounds"? What would
be your first word? More about making contact can be gotten by going to
the "Contact" section.