UN May Tap 'Envoy' to Greet ET

By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 27, 2010 3:16 AM CDT
UN May Tap 'Envoy' to Greet ET
ET: phone the UN.   (?MarkWallace)

ET, phone the General Assembly. United Nations scientific advisory committees are about to debate whether to place the organization's Office for Outer Space Affairs in charge of coordinating humankind's response if and when extraterrestrials make contact. The unit's boss is Malaysian astrophysicist Mazlan Othman, called "absolutely the nearest thing we have to a 'take me to your leader' person" by a space law expert, reports the Telegraph. “The continued search for extraterrestrial communication sustains the hope that some day humankind will received signals from extraterrestrials," she recently told scientists.

“When we do, we should have in place a coordinated response that takes into account all the sensitivities related to the subject. The UN is a ready-made mechanism for such coordination," she added. But, as with everything else in the UN, the topic likely faces a vigorous debate. While some members may hope for friendly encounters with aliens, the Outer Space Treaty of 1967 requires UN members to protect Earth against contamination by alien species by "sterilizing" them.While Othman is known to be more tolerant, even Professor Stephen Hawking warns that visiting aliens might be out to take whatever they can from Earth.
(More outer space stories.)

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