Star Trek‘s very first captain has done something no other captain has ever done. Actor Anson Mount, who played Christopher Pike on Star Trek: Discovery, has joined the board of directors of METI, an organization that tries to contact extraterrestrial life.
Mount played Captain Christopher Pike on the show’s second season. Pike is a character with a long and complex history. While many think James T. Kirk was the first Star Trek captain, that honor technically belongs to Captain Pike.
Mount Confirmed the News on Twitter
Not content to “boldly go” in search of alien life on the set of the rumored Star Trek: Strange New Worlds as Captain Pike spinoff series, Anson Mount has officially joined METI’s Board of Directors.
Trek Movie reports that Mount issued a statement about joining METI, saying it was “a distinct privilege” to join METI’s Board. “As a Starfleet Captain,” he added, “it brings me unbridled joy to be able to say that I am actually sending out a hail.”
In an interview with Paste, Mount explained that he is excited to be a part of this scientific work: “We’re just now at a point in history where we are finally able to map planets in the Goldilocks zone, actual planets that could harbor liquid water. So now we have targets.”
While that episode was rejected by execs, Pike did eventually appear on Star Trek “for real”, in two ways. Firstly, footage from “The Cage” was edited as flashback sequences into an episode that did air, a two-parter called “The Menagerie”. Additionally, within that episode, we also see an injured Captain Pike, who is unable to speak. The injured Pike was played by Sean Kenney, the same actor who played the minor character of Lt. DePaul in other episodes of the show.
Mount isn’t the only Star Trek alum to be involved with the real-world pursuit of life among the stars. Star Trek: Voyager actor Robert Picardo has been involved with the Planetary Society since 1999, when he became a member of the organization’s Advisory Council. Picardo has even testified before Congress on behalf of the organization, which aims to advance the cause of space exploration.
What Does METI Do, Exactly?
In the video above, METI president Douglas Vakoch explains why reaching out to aliens shouldn’t scare us.
Humans have been wondering about the existence of extraterrestrial life for a long time, but arguably, the search for that alien life first began in 1974. That year, for the first time in history, scientists used technology to beam a message into space, hoping to attract the attention of extraterrestrials. That experiment, known today as the Arecibo Message, was not destined to be the last message we sent into the stars.
In fact, METI made headlines back in 2017 after “beaming” a message to any aliens in the GJ 273 system. It is worth noting, however, that message from 2017 was predicted to take a dozen years just to reach that system. In other words, we might be waiting for a “call back” from the stars for a few more years, at least.
Wait, Are METI & SETI the Same Thing?
Watch three prominent scientists address the question “Are we alone in the universe” in the SETI video above.
Does this news have you wondering, “Wait, is METI the same thing as SETI?” The confusion is understandable.
SETI stands for “search for extraterrestrial intelligence” and can sometimes be used as a general shorthand for any organization looking for alien life. There is also the SETI Institute, which is a specific organization involved in SETI work.
According to the SETI website, the organization “began operations” in 1985, and has since provided “hundreds” of research grants. The organization regularly hosts SETI Talks on various space-related topics. Today, the SETI Institute spans three centers: the Carl Sagan Center, the Center for Education, and the Center for Outreach.
In contrast, METI International refers to a specific organization founded in 2015. METI stands for “Messaging Extraterrestrial Intelligence”. The Sydney Morning Herald clarifies that METI founder and president Douglas Vakoch was the former director of Interstellar Message Composition at the SETI Institute.