Scientists believe today could be the day that humanity makes first contact with alien life forms.

Astronomers are hoping to receive a reply from a message that was beamed into space 40 years ago.

A message was sent to space from Stanford University in 1983. It contained 13 drawings of our solar system, the history of life on earth, and the structure of our DNA.

Astronomers from the University of Hyogo predict that today is the earliest point at which a response could arrive from anyone living near the Altair star.

Malvern Gazette: Astronomers are hoping to receive an alien reply to a message that was beamed into space 40 years agoAstronomers are hoping to receive an alien reply to a message that was beamed into space 40 years ago (Image: Getty)

At just 16.7 light-years away, the star is relatively close to Earth, and is the 12th brightest star in the night sky.

Professor Shinya Narusawa, leading the team at the University of Hyogo, told Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun: “A large number of exoplanets have been detected since the 1990s. Altair may have a planet whose environment can sustain life.”

His team will use a huge antenna at Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s (JAXA) to scan the skies for a reply at 2pm BST today.

It comes a month after US lawmakers held a landmark hearing concerning UFO sightings.

David Grusch, an ex-intelligence officer, claims the US government has "intact and partially intact" alien vehicles.

The House of Representatives convened a panel on unidentified aerial phenomenon (UAPs), more commonly known as UFOs, in the most serious acknowledgement yet that mysterious sightings deserve scrutiny at the highest levels of government.

The hearing was prompted by claims from Grusch in June that the government was secretly harbouring alien spacecraft. Grusch repeated some of those claims – although not all – under oath.

US lawmakers were "not bringing little green men or flying saucers into the hearing… we're just going to get to the facts," Republican Tim Burchett said at the beginning of the meeting. Yet the testimony at times certainly strayed into that territory.

Over the course of two hours, three witnesses shared their encounters with objects that defied physics and told of pilots afraid to speak up, biological material recovered from crafts, and alleged retaliation against whistleblowers.

Each acknowledged that UAPs were a potential national security threat.

The hearing produced no serious bombshells - nor a confirmation of alien life - but the fact that the witnesses received a major hearing before Congress was notable in and of itself. Lawmakers and witnesses alike used the panel to demand greater transparency around UAPs from the military.