Nasa’s Voyager 2 space probe ‘hijacked by aliens’

Photo of earth and moon taken by Voyager 1

German academic thinks aliens may be responsible for craft's cryptic messages to earth

BY Jonathan Harwood LAST UPDATED AT 16:55 ON Fri 14 May 2010

Nasa space probe Voyager 2, which left earth 33 years ago, may have been hijacked by aliens who are now trying to make contact with earth according to a German academic.

The craft, which is 8.6 billion miles from earth on the very edge of the solar system, has been sending back data ever since it was launched - until last month when it briefly stopped transmitting before starting to send strange messages that scientists cannot decipher.

German academic Hartwig Hausdorf believes the change could be down to extraterrestrials. He says that because the rest of the spacecraft is still working normally there may be more to the cryptic messages than meets the eye.

"It seems almost as if someone has reprogrammed or hijacked the probe," he told German newspaper Bild. "Thus perhaps we do not yet know the whole truth."

Nasa's explanation is rather more prosaic. It blames a software problem with the craft's flight data system. Voyager 2 has been given instructions to transmit only information about its own status while scientists try to get to the bottom of the mystery.

The Voyager 1 and 2 craft were launched together in 1977 and are both still working as they approach the edge of the heliosphere, the 'bubble' the sun creates around the solar system.

Before being sent into space they were loaded with a so-called Golden Record - a disk containing greetings in 55 earth languages along with sounds and images from our planet in case it did encounter extraterrestrial life.

But if Hausdorf is correct in assuming that aliens are trying to send messages there could be trouble ahead, even if they understand the information on the Golden Disk.

Last month, Professor Stephen Hawking, the renowned British astrophysicist and believer in aliens, warned that advanced extraterrestrial life forms would aggressively seek to colonise Earth should humans ever make contact with them.

Editor's note: Since this item was published, Nasa engineers have diagnosed the cause of Voyager 2's garbled messages: "One flip of a bit in the memory of an onboard computer." Apparently, a value in a single memory location was changed from a 0 to a 1. Nasa was planning to fix the error on May 19. · 

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