Blockchain is Being Used to Store Simulated Alien Messages from Mars


The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute, or SETI, has recently partnered with Filecoin, a decentralized data storage marketplace, to store a simulated alien message from Mars.

The project, A Sign in Space, was a performance designed to simulate transmitting an extraterrestrial encoded message to Earth using the European Space Agency’s ExoMars Trace Gas Orbiter that is currently orbiting Mars.

This performance was designed with the intention of involving communities interested in decoding and interpreting the message, bridging different cultures and areas of expertise. 

In a live broadcast, Daniela de Paulis, the founder and artistic director of A Sign in Space, noted that the encoded message was open to interpretation.

“Imagine abstract art, as an artist you make a painting and you attribute the meaning to this painting, often not even a fixed meaning…if other people start interpreting something abstract, it may be even more diverse and we might get different types of interpretations,” de Paulis said.

The processed message has been securely stored using Filecoin, to ensure that the information in the message is preserved and available for analysis and interpretation.

Interested participants are now able to access and interpret the message for themselves.

The role of Filecoin

Unlike traditional cloud services, Filecoin addresses data through a unique hash, Stefaan Vervaet, head of network growth at Protocol Labs — the team behind Filecoin — said in a live broadcast.

“It’s a global unique key that allows you to get rid of IP addresses, hostnames, its location in the planet, which means that as long as you have that hash, you can access that data from anywhere in the world,” Vervaet said. 

Researchers will have the ability to analyze the signal that has been stored on Filecoin from anywhere in the world through its interplanetary file system (IPFS) gateway — a distributed file storage system that enables servers to store files and data from anywhere and everywhere. 

Vervaet also notes that all data stored on the Filecoin network is immutable and verified on a daily basis through ecosystem participants. 

“[They] are required to verify through cryptographic hashing on a daily basis that if the data is still the same as it was initially,” he said. “You can be ensured that the data is not changed…there is no single entity that can just pull the rug, push you off the platform and remove these data sets.”

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