As of today, you can fire off a tweet-length message to a far-flung solar system, but you'll need patience—it won't get there for about 18 years, and it will take just as long to receive any extra-terrestrial response. As the Seattle Post-Intelligencer explains, a start-up called Lone Signal has begun sending submitted text messages in all languages to the Gliese 526 solar system. The first one is free, and then a group of four will set you back 99 cents, reports CNNMoney.
The company is making use of the Jamesburg Earth Station in California's Carmel Valley to send the messages, and it hopes to expand its operations in the coming years to every hemisphere. Along with the text messages, the company is sending up missives written in binary code that explain our understanding of physics. Also fair game? Animated GIFs, and the Verge has a peek at the first one going up—of a guy scratching his ear.