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Situation: We got an alien spaceship in orbit around Earth. They have no malicious intent towards Earth and its inhabitants, and we have no reason to blow them out of the sky. Peaceful contact... but how do we establish it?

Are there any real-life plans in case we have friendly aliens in orbit around the planet? Do we send them a variety of signals and hope one sticks? If so, what do we send? The contents of the Voyager Golden Record? Messages and images of peace and friendship? Or something more recent? Do we even have something like ready to go? Or do we send a spaceship up there and see if we can arrange a physical meeting with the aliens (though that will require a space walk for us to their ship or from theirs to the ISS)?

And what would be the most logical thing for the aliens to do? Send their own information through some kind of signal? And from there create some kind of translation chart and go from there? Might they send an information package down and hope that this isn't seen as an act of aggression? Or will they just land and hope for the best?

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closed as off-topic by overactor, Scott Downey, bowlturner, Gilles, James Feb 3 '15 at 14:52

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  • "Questions about Idea Generation are off-topic because they tend to result in list answers with no objective means to compare the quality of one answer with the others. For more information, see What's wrong with idea-generation questions?." – overactor, Scott Downey, bowlturner, James
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  • $\begingroup$ I think this was edited but now it seems to be mostly opinion based. With some description of their general behaviors we may be able to extrapolate how they would react but I think if you start defining their behaviors the question will answer itself. $\endgroup$ – James Feb 4 '15 at 15:25
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Difference between aliens and humans might be as big as between ants and humans, if alien's evolution started just few hundred millions of years earlier (their sun is older).

How would ant colony establish contact if backpacker camps nearby?

Read Roadside picnic - a sci-fi about the situation from your question.

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The difficult part here is establishing contact without appearing hostile. You might be interested in the Voyager plaque and the Pioneer 10 Plaque, which were engraved metal plaques put on their namesake spacecraft to demonstrate our intelligence to any other intelligent species the spacecraft encountered.

So perhaps these aliens in orbit are there as a result of these: they found the spacecraft crashed on their planet, tracked its trajectory back to Earth, and came to visit. That helps: since the plaques are all images not text, the aliens can probably understand them and thus know we're intelligent.

Given the technology it took them to get here, we can assume fairly safely that they have some transmitting/receiving equipment aboard their ship; thus, we can send signals at the ship to try to get a response. The question is what we send: we can try our languages but they may not understand; they may not have the equipment to decode images.

However we establish contact, it needs to be done slowly, noting the response to every action we take and changing our next action accordingly.

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  • $\begingroup$ Unlikely. Voyager 1 has finally made it to interstellar space, but is merely ~0.002 LY out. voyager.jpl.nasa.gov/where By time it gets anywhere substantial (eg: Alpha Centauri is 81,700 years away at that speed, but wrong direction), we'll have bypassed it, or be so different that the question will be meaningless. $\endgroup$ – user3082 Mar 4 '15 at 7:41

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