Alien civilization “parked” their spaceship in our planet’s vicinity. We have one shot to make a good impression, we send our representative. I asked our panelists who is their ideal candidate.
Nicole Gugliucci (“Noisy astronomer”, blogger, educator, post-doc)
I might be having a long day, but my first response is “No one! Tell them to run for their lives, it’s ridiculous down here!”
Actually in all seriousness I’m sure no one person could speak for humanity adequately. I imagine the current UN Secretary General would be a decent choice, as he’s at least already caught up on what’s going on around the world. Sadly, Ellie Arroway is only a fictional character.
Nancy Atkinson (Senior Editor for Universe Today, Host of the NASA Lunar Science Institute podcast & a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador)
The obvious choice is Neil de Grasse Tyson, with Bill Nye running a close second — maybe we should send them both! NDGT would be able to answer any questions the aliens have without getting into political or theological rhetoric and he would represent the best qualities of humanity: curiosity, wonder, and intelligence.
Bill Nye would also present those qualities while being a fun (and funny) guy for the aliens to meet! I mean, who doesn’t want to meet these two??
Fraser Cain (publisher at Universetoday.com, co-host of Astronomy Cast)
Whoa, that would be a huge responsibility. One wrong move and you might doom humanity. I think I’d choose Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield because he’s awesome on every level. He’s an eloquent communicator, he can play the guitar in zero gravity to entertain the aliens, and if things go sideways, he can use his skills as a fighter pilot to steal one of their shuttles and alert us of an impending invasion.
Brian Koberlein (astrophysicist and physics professor at Rochester Institute of Technology, author, podcaster, publisher)
I would do it as a contest. Have people apply, go through the discussions and let people vote on who they’d like to represent them. If we broadcast it the aliens would also see what we value, and what we like and dislike about ourselves. I suspect the winner would be someone experienced, but who isn’t a celebrity.
Andrew Rader (SpaceX engineer, MIT PhD, author)
Why only 1? I’d send the US President (to act as a political ambassador), an astronomer (to learn about where they came from), and a medical doctor (to learn about their anatomy).