by Peter James Spielman, assoicated press writer, 9/15/92 UNITED NATIONS-After more than 3

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by Peter James Spielman, assoicated press writer, 9/15/92 UNITED NATIONS--After more than 30 years of listening to radio waves from outer space for greetings from an alien civilization, scientists are planning to turn to the United Nations for guidance on how to answer. Dozens of times, scientists have picked up radio waves matching the expected signature of a message from space. But these have not been confirmed as genuine contacts because they were fleeting and unverifiable. With new NASA equipment joining the search next month, radio astronomers believe they will ultimately be able to confirm that a future transmission is a sign from a distant planet. Radio astronomers and engineers involved in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, commonly called SETI, this month began consulting with their colleagues in all scientific disciplines for suggestions on what the reply to aliens should be. After sifting and winnowing their own ideas, the scientists plan to seek a decision from the U.N. General Assembly's Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space. "The basic thinking all along is that this decision ought to be put into the hands of the United Nations," said John Billingham, head of the SETI project at NASA's Ames Research Center in Mountain View, Calif. In a "white paper" now being circulated to space scientists worldwide, one key principle is that Earth should reply with one voice, on behalf of all humanity, than than individual states sending a response, according to scientists familiar with the document. "We have always considered this not just a U.S. question, but an international question." Billingham said. "Everybody, in some way or another, should be involved in it." [ Officials at the U.S. State Department, speaking on condition of anonymity, say they are leaving this initiative to the scientists. The space scientists plan to refine their ideas at international meetings in April and October 1993. The 53-nation Committee of the Peaceful Uses of Outer Sapce has in the past drafted five intermational treaties on the peaceful uses of outer space, and three internationally accepted declarations of legal principles. The scientists would have to find a sponsor nationa to bring their ideas before the U.N. committee. Then, Billingham said, the committee could accept wide-ranging testimony from scientists, historians, philosophers and political delegates to shape Earth's reply to a message from another planet.


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