by Staff Writers
United Nations, N.Y. (UPI) Sep 27, 2010
The United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs on Tuesday dismissed as "nonsense" a newspaper report which said it had appointed a new ambassador as a point of contact for extra-terrestrials.
"The article in the Sunday Times is nonsense," UNOOSA said in a statement, referring to a report this weekend which said the UN was to appoint Malaysian astrophysicist, Mazlan Othman, to be the first contact for any aliens.
Othman heads UNOOSA, a little-known department of the UN based in Vienna with a staff of 27.
Under a mandate defined by the UN General Assembly, UNOOSA's task is to promote international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space and strengthen the use of space science and technology applications.
"There are no plans to change the current mandate," the statement said.
According to the Sunday Times article, Othman was set to describe her potential new role as chief alien ambassador next week at a scientific conference at the Royal Society's Kavli conference centre in Buckinghamshire, England.
But UNOOSA also rejected this.
Othman would use the conference to "raise awareness" about topics such as space debris, asteroids, "as well as the annual World Space Week celebrations from October 4-10."
In an interview with AFP a year ago, Othman had joked that the UN Secretary General would be the one to "represent mankind ... if we do make contact with aliens."
earlier related report
Malaysian astrophysicist Mazlan Othman, 58, would be responsible for co-coordinating humanity's response if and when extraterrestrials make contact, Britain Daily Telegraph reported Sunday.
Othman will discuss the details of her proposed new role at a Royal Society conference in England this week, the newspaper said.
She is currently head of the little-known U.N. Office for Outer Space Affairs.
"Othman is absolutely the nearest thing we have to a 'take me to your leader' person," Professor Richard Crowther, an expert in space law at the U.K. space agency, said.
The plan to make the Office for Outer Space Affairs the co-coordinating body for dealing with alien encounters will be debated by U.N. scientific advisory committees and should eventually reach the body's general assembly, the Daily Telegraph said.
"The continued search for extraterrestrial communication, by several entities, sustains the hope that some day human kind will received signals from extraterrestrials," Othman says.
"When we do, we should have in place a coordinated response that takes into account all the sensitivities related to the subject," she says. "The United Nations is a ready-made mechanism for such coordination."
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