Mars for Earthlings > Lesson Modules > In-Class Activity 1- Calling Earth

Calling Earth

In-Class Activity 1_ET in the Universe

Julia Kahmann-Robinson PhD and Marjorie Chan PhD, University of Utah Department of Geology & Geophysics


Learn the mission of SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) and their protocols.


  • Read through the article "SETI Activities for the College Classroom" for thorough instructions as to how to conduct the Engage activity.
  • Find someone outside our state/region to be your ET for Engage and have that individual send a signal prior to your class meeting.


  1. Scenario: An ET is trying to make contact with you and the class. A message has been sent. You need to find it.
  2. What you know: The ET knows where you are, for example: in GEOL 109 at the University of Utah.
  3. Engage activity explained:


You are an astrophysicist, if you hear what you think to be communication from outside our solar system, what protocol would you follow to make a conclusive determination? Come up with at least 5 steps.

1. _________________________________________________________

2. _________________________________________________________

3. _________________________________________________________

4. _________________________________________________________

5. _________________________________________________________



  1. Now that you have determined an ET signal/communication what is the rank order of steps you would take to inform the world?
  2. Compare your above steps to what SETI has published as their protocol ( for ET detection. How do they differ?
  3. What ethical implications are involved if such an occurrence were to happen?

An additional activity could involve having students look up protocols for sample return missions from Mars. Should we worry about contaminating Earth with samples from Mars? How should scientists handle this issue and what precautions should be followed?


What are the steps designated by SETI to take in the case of receiving an ET signal?