Who to Call If a Spaceship Lands in Your Backyard

A rumor has been circulating this week that the U.N. named a Malaysian astrophysicist as the official “greeter” for extraterrestrial visitors to Earth.

It began with an article in London’s Sunday Times which said that the United Nations has appointed Mazlan Othman, head of the Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA), as being the official “first contact” for any outer-space visitors from now on.   The story was picked up by news outlets worldwide; the U.N. is now attempting to quash the rumor.   

“The mandate of the Office for Outer Space Affairs is defined by the United Nations General Assembly and there are no plans to change the current mandate,” Jamshid Gaziyev, a spokesman for the U.N., told FoxNews.com.

Othman was expected to formally announce the new position at a scientific conference in Buckinghamshire, England next week, according to the Times article.   

As the basis for its “scoop,” the Times cited a speech Othman delivered recently in which she apparently said: “The continued search for extraterrestrial communication, by several entities, sustains the hope that someday 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 U.N. is a ready-made mechanism for such coordination.”

The article went on to quote Professor Richard Crowther of the U.K. Space Agency who leads British delegations to the U.N. on such matters, as saying, “Othman is absolutely the nearest thing we have to a ‘take me to your leader’ person.”

The last time the U.N. dabbled in communicating with aliens was in 1977 aboard the two Voyager spacecrafts.  Phonograph records were created with images and sounds from Earth, along with a printed message from President Jimmy Carter and U.N. Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim. The phonographs are still out there, waiting to be picked up by some inquisitive life form…who will learn that this thing called the “Dow” closed the year at 831 and Star Wars – ironically – was the blockbuster of the year.