Melbourne: After leaving Earth’s surface 33 years ago, the Voyager 2 spacecraft may have been hijacked by aliens, it has been claimed.
Scientists had installed a 12-inch disk containing music and greetings in 55 languages in case intelligent extraterrestrial life ever found it, but the spacecraft is sending signals in an unknown format.
"It seems almost as if someone had reprogrammed or hijacked the probe – thus perhaps we do not yet know the whole truth," The Daily Telegraph quoted alien expert Hartwig Hausdorf as saying.
The spacecraft late last month began sending science data 8.6 billion miles to Earth in a changed format that mission managers could not decode.
Engineers are working to solve the data transmissions and have since instructed Voyager 2 to only transmit data on its own health and status while they work on the problem.
Launched in 1977, Voyager 2 and its twin, Voyager 1, explored the giant planets Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune and kept on going. Nearly 33 years later, they are the most distant human-made objects.
Voyager 1 is 10.5 billion miles from Earth and in about five years is expected to pass through the heliosphere, a bubble the sun creates around the solar system, and enter interstellar space.
Voyager 2 will follow after that.