The 80,000-year-old SOS was received and digitally recorded in late January 1998.
But only in recent weeks have radio astronomers and language experts found the key to the complex mathematics-based language that enabled them to translate the 'frantic plea for help'.
The world press has been suspiciously silent about the startling message, though lengthy scientific reports are scheduled for publication in two professional journals, Radio Astronomy and Universe.
According to a highly placed NASA source in Houston, Texas, noted Russian space scientist Dr. Viktor Kulakov is leading a United Nations research team from a state-operated observatory 50 miles northwest of Moscow.
Dr. Kulakov told Universe that the signal emanated from a point beyond the galaxy nearest to our own, Andromeda, and was sent by beings that had apparently achieved a civilization no more advanced than our own here on Earth.
“And while there are years of study ahead of us, I can say with certainty that the death of their civilization was not the result of some cosmic catastrophe. It was the result of the civilization turning on itself, possibly with devastating nuclear weaponry.”
Dr Kulakov flatly refused to provide either of the magazines with a transcript of the message, but he did say it began with the plea, “Help us,” and went on to give data pinpointing the exact position of the doomed planet.
"There was a quite lucid account of apocalyptic devastation, hellish explosions, widespread death and terminal illnesses,” he said.
“A Shower of meteors? Perhaps. But what stikes me, and this is just a feeling, is an underlying acceptance of guilt. It’s as if the senders of the message are acknowledging blame for what happened.”
"Whatever it was, they apparently had no means to evacuate the remaining population. Interplanetary space travel was available to them, but only on a very limited level. The message makes it very clear that they were trapped on their world,” said Dr. Kulakov.