No one knows how it will happen, but leading scientists believe that some day we will make contact with extra-terrestrial intelligence. And if the aliens make it to Earth, they may not come in peace. In the event of a hostile alien visitation, here's how it might play out...
WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF...?
Sometime in the future - possibly the very near future - the world will go about its business as usual. But at a remote observatory, a space anomaly is reported. Something unusual - and large - appears to be approaching Earth. Experts aren't sure how to react. The first sighting alerts sky-watchers around the world...
8 HOURS BEFORE CONTACT
Astronomers scramble to analyse an object only 8,000 kilometres from Earth - closer than our moon. It has crept into earth's orbit with no warning. The next group to take an interest in the anomaly is military.
US Space Command uses global satellite tracking systems, telescopes and radar to search for any type of airborne or space threat. The object is not natural.
TWO HOURS BEFORE CONTACT
At US Space Command, astronomers don't know if the anomaly is an actual vehicle. Then comes confirmation; in a solar system where every object is constantly in motion, the unknown object stops. Space Command officials agree that it must be powered.
The next step is to establish contact. The UN Office of Outer Space Affairs committee quickly crafts a simple message, transmitted to the spacecraft over television and radio signal. The message is transmitted simultaneously in the most widely spoken languages of the world: Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, English, Arabic and Hindi.
Astronomers see no response to Earth's communication. Space Command attempts contact using the universal language of mathematics in a sequence of prime numbers.
As the craft approaches Earth, screens go blank, data streams cut out, and communications suddenly cease. Cell phone calls are dropped and TV images go out. All of Earth's satellites fail, but optical and radio telescopes are still receiving information. The aliens have knocked out satellite communication.
THREE HOURS AFTER CONTACT
Militaries prepare for the worst. Squadrons of F-18s - possibly our planet's most effective and versatile air-to-air weapon - scramble into action. But, for alien crafts to travel through the stars, they have propulsion technologies beyond physics that we even understand and can evade F-18 missiles fired at twice the speed of sound.
Militaries try to intercept and decode alien communication. Humvees with broadcast dishes target alien crafts with microwaves to jam signals, cyber-attacking invaders.
On the ground, a desperate military unleashes experimental weapons like the U.S. Air Force's highly classified X-37B spacefighter. But experimental weapons are no match.
FIVE HOURS AFTER CONTACT
While nations of the world combine forces, the alien air force clears the skies then blasts military targets around the world, following our own radar signals before moving on to attack the infrastructure of our society, leaving one last hope: nuclear weapons.
Somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean, a submarine releases a Trident II ballistic missile, carrying nearly 3.5 megatonnes of destructive power. The missile breaks apart into eight self-guided warheads. But, Earth's mightiest weapon has no impact.
From shielded bunkers and secret locations, surviving military leaders issue orders for a surprising new tactic. Instead of attack, they order their forces to run away.
24 HOURS AFTER CONTACT
The alien invasion is complete. The invaders control the skies and ground. Earth's remaining communications hubs call for civilian evacuation. In the panic to flee, desperate crowds become rioting mobs.
Roadways grind to a halt. A successful getaway demands some other form of transportation. For some, safety from aliens and rampaging humans means going underground. Subway tunnels and sewers provide safe exits from burning cities.
According to the experts, the destruction of civilization is predictable. And, it is accounted for in the plans to fight an alien invasion. But, while military defeat may be predictable, it's not the end of the war. Among the survivors of Earth - in caves, and forests and deserts - there grows the seeds of rebellion.
FIVE DAYS TO SIX WEEKS AFTER CONTACT
With cities destroyed, remnants of humanity are on the run. Urban chaos and failed evacuations kill thousands in the first day. Scavenged supplies, canned food and clean water along with flashlights, batteries and knives become vital. But, the real key to long-term survival is other people.
Surviving groups carry the last remnants of human technology, connecting with simple devices: walkie-talkies, recovered ham radios, and old telegraph lines.
SIX TO SEVEN MONTHS AFTER CONTACT
Survivors must fight aliens with low tech guerrilla tactics and small-scale explosives. The alien forces have ventured too far from home to rely on reinforcements, meaning every lost unit won't be replaced - a critical weakness.
With bacteria and disease rampant among survivors deprived of antibiotics and other medicine, humans are provided with another weapon. Living germ warfare units prepare to be harvested - to spread their deadly agent among the invaders.
NINE MONTHS AFTER CONTACT
Astro-biologists say that humans would be more in danger from alien bacteria, and germ warfare has no effect. But, what if the aliens are not biological...simply machines?
In the case of non-biological attackers, there is one low-tech weapon that may be a match for the best technology of intergalactic invaders: a balloon. This unlikely weapon could be a game-changer. A balloon is so low-tech that it could be nearly invisible.
Around the world, a coordinated balloon assault armed with high explosives and scavenged military bombs is underway. Throughout history, low tech assaults regularly succeed against superior technology.
A human victory over alien technology may have less to do with tactics, and more to do with the human spirit - as it's evolved over 200,000 years.
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