If aliens sent an Earth Rover to our planet, and you were in charge of the response, what would you do?
do you think the Strategic Defense Initiative or ‘Star Wars', the US defense plan of the early 1980's was really about the Soviet?
This happened to me when I was a Wenrate 4, in the Earth Defense Forces, back in the 1980's.
Fortunately, this one landed at night and in the desert. It had to cool down and then there were the hours of darkness before it could be activated.
With the previous alien rovers and probes, we simply destroyed them during their cool down, wind up phase, and the aliens assumed something went wrong o the landing but this time, Boulder, our headquarters, told us to do a ‘deception plan'.
Using the information from the surveillance of the Alien Planet, we simply put out some ‘trash' that actually was some rather expensive simulations of an empty crumpled beverage container of a popular brand of soft drink on their planet and some fast food wrappers from their second most popular chain and pinned their vehicle down so it couldn't rove, and it only could slew that image, of what to them was too familiar looking trash.
Seeing familiar looking trash on what to them was supposed to a long distance probe, cause upheaval with the alien conspiracy theorists persuading others that this entire thing was filmed on a back lot on their own planet.
They defunded their Planetary Aeronautics and Space Administration or PASA, and stepped away from space research giving us the military tech edge so we could eradicate them by 1996 during the Secret alien wars.
Now that the Earth Defense Forces has been supplanted by the Space Defense Force, we're forgotten, but for a while there, we stymied our greatest threat, with some quick thinking, some fake trash and that saved us from invasion.
A thank you now and then would be nice.
But I know you don't know, as it's all classified.
Try to determine what sensors it used, and if it were capable of sending what it was detecting to wherever it came from...and, its antenna, etc, would then be facing where it came from...pointing directly back at it.
My personal (projected) view point would be of a fellow team of scientists searching for life, and what would I LOVE TO SEE OUR ROVER find, and the life do.
I am aware that some people are afraid an advanced interstellar species might notice us and enslave or eat us, etc...albeit, personally, we already determined that slavery is actually not cost effective in the long term, and interstellar meat is not going to be economical, etc....so, worst case is that they'd want to study us, the way we send anthropologists when we discover a previously unknown tribe, etc. (IMHO...I'd make sure the paranoids got to voice their concerns, and if a compelling argument IS made, it should be heeded, etc)
Then (assuming I still conclude my way is the way to go...) I would put together a team to evaluate the best way to:
- Let them know they found life, including intelligent life.
- See what means of communications were possible.
- See what communications would be wise/useful/enlightening.
- Consider uploading/displaying a larger view of the planet and its life and features.
- See if they can ask us questions/we can ask them questions...get lists of questions people would like answered/get people who can answer THEIR questions.
Plan B - The paranoids convince me that we need to keep them away.
Depending upon what they've seen so far, and their send/receive abilities...
Perhaps contract a nightmare scenario that is all they can see...horrific monsters that can use their minds to blow things up or something...if they know we are here...
...or a curtain of a bleak empty landscape, so all they see is desolation...if they have not seen much yet, etc.
Or, just take the thing apart and steal all the technology/forensic evidence about them we can.
Assuming we knew for sure it was alien, after some thought about it I think I'd have to quarantine it somehow. Maybe put up some sort of air-tight structure around it since we probably wouldn't know if it was carrying any living organisms (including diseases) or if it had weapons. The structure would need sensors - cameras, microphones, radiological sensors, biological sensors, chemical sensors. We'd need to provide access, though, so scientists could come and go. Although we probably wouldn't have to be too concerned, it might be wise to have some sort of minor military presence nearby. Then it's all just a matter of watch and study, maybe looking into some way to communicate to its sensors in some rudimentary way. After some time, maybe a long time, it might come time to see if we could begin to inspect the interior, but that could make us look like a bunch of nearly-hairless apes curiously trying to destroy something. ; )
That would totally depend on where the probe came from - assuming you could even determine that.
But let's say they have something attached or built into it that tells you it's point of origin (something like the coded graphics and disks we placed on the Pioneer and Voyager probes) - you'd still have to consider the distances involved. The thing may have been in space for hundreds of thousands, or millions of years. So at that point, using what technology we have now, it would be appropriate to acknowledge we've received their device by beaming a message in the direction of their star system - but be aware of the fact that it would take eons for them to get our message, and by that point, whoever is still out there could be baffled, if they'd long forgotten about the probe their ancient ancestors sent out, or worse, their civilization has long since gone extinct.
The biggest variable in this: If the probe contains some instructions for an instant form of communication technology exotic to us, and if the probe has traveled to us using equally exotic means that didn't require thousands or millions of years - in that case, the builders could still exist. We'd then have some serious considerations to make - are they peaceful, and are we ready to become part of a galactic community? In either scenario though, it would entirely change our culture and sense of ourselves permanently. If I were in charge of how or if to respond, I'd first make all of that clear to the world before doing anything else.