Did you know that the United Nations has a specific office dedicated to the "peaceful use" of outer space? Not only is the Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) real—they're set to appoint the first Earth ambassador to aliens. And she shall be our Jodie Foster!
Mazlan Othman, the head of UNOOSA, is the Malaysian astrophysicist who will serve as first contact with any visiting aliens. She is giving a speech next week at a scientific conference where she is expected to explain and describe her new role and its importance. During a recent talk, she gave some clues as to what that role may look like: “The continued search for extraterrestrial communication, by several entities, sustains the hope that some day humankind will receive signals from extraterrestrials. When we do, we should have in place a coordinated response that takes into account all the sensitivities related to the subject. The UN is a ready-made mechanism for such coordination.”
Professor Richard Crowther, an expert in space law and governance at the UK Space Agency, calls Othman "the nearest thing we have to a ‘take me to your leader’ person.” But he advises that it's more likely first contact will be via radio or light signals from a distant planet, and if it were in person, it'd probably be microbes rather than E.T. The real question is: what role JK Livin will have in all this?