What would you like to say to aliens? That might not be a rhetorical question: NASA really does plan to collect messages from members of the public that it’ll send into space as some kind of intergalactic time capsule. (And who knows who or what might find them…)
Next summer, NASA’s New Horizons probe, which was launched in 2006, will finally reach Pluto. Once it’s finished transmitting info to earth, it will have a lot of memory left over. We can send files back to the probe in around four hours (about as long as it takes me to download a movie), so before it disappears from our galaxy forever, science journalist and space artist Jon Lomberg suggested we fill it with digital mementoes from Earth. He’s passionate about the idea because he was design director for astronomer Carl Sagan’s Golden Record project, which collected a series of sounds and images from Earth on gramophone records and sent them into space on the Voyager 1 and 2 probes back in 1977. New Horizons is the first object since then that will leave our solar system.
When he approached NASA, they were initially unenthusiastic, but following a concerted campaign from Lomberg, they’ve now reconsidered and will be taking submissions from around the world starting in early 2015. You’ll be able to submit your Vine, tweet, photo, or whatever other message you think summarises life in the 20-teens. Lomberg and his team at the New Horizons Message Initiative will vet them for anything NSFS (not safe for space) and send their favourites on to NASA for the final decision. There will also be the chance to vote for your favourites. NASA has already proven itself to be a selfie enthusiast, making a “Global Selfie” in honour of Earth Day, so your best duck face could be in with a shot.
Image via Sweetle187’s Flickr.