ET welcome: Kentucky city beams message into space inviting extraterrestrial visitors

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — A Kentucky city has come up with an out-of-this-world campaign to promote tourism.

The Lexington Convention and Visitors Bureau used an infrared laser to beam a message into space to invite extraterrestrial travelers.

“The first thing you’ll notice as you descend through Earth’s atmosphere above Central Kentucky is the lush green countryside that surrounds Lexington’s vibrant city center. That’s our famous bluegrass,” the message begins. It goes on to describe gentle rolling hills, horse farms and bourbon before suggesting places to stay and eat and shop.

The idea for the campaign came from recent UFO revelations and advances in deep space imaging that have fueled the belief that we are not alone in the universe, the visitors bureau said in a statement this month announcing the move.

The agency said it worked with scientists and scholars to beam the message toward potentially habitable planets in the TRAPPIST-1 solar system 40 light years away.

The effort was led by Lexington native Robert Lodder, who is an expert in computer engineering, astrobiology, and Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence.

“We brought together experts in engineering, linguistics, digital media, philosophy, and science fiction to design, debate, and transmit this message," he said in the statement.

The message was sent with FAA approval and has a coded bitmap image.

“The bitmap image is the key to it all,” linguistics expert Dr. Andrew Byrd said. “We included imagery representing the elements of life, our iconic Lexington rolling hills, and the molecular structure for water, bourbon, and even dopamine … because Lexington is fun!”

It could take a while to get an answer though. The agency says it will take 40 years to get to its intended target and could take another 40 to receive any response.

In the meantime, the agency says earthly travelers are invited to visit.