NASA is inviting you to put your artwork on an asteroid as it will hurdle through space for thousands of years to come. The new call for art submission made by the space agency will seek to encourage those interested in expressing their spirit of exploration.
- The submissions will be sent via the OSIRIS-REx, to be launched later this year
- The spacecraft will reach asteroid Bennu in 2018, after which it will remain there
- Asteroid Bennu is 4 billion years old, around 1,600 feet across, and passes within 186,000 miles of Earth every 6 years
- In the year 2182, there is a 1 in 2,500 chance that Bennu will hit our planet
NASA is accepting submissions of artwork that will be all packed on the chip to be set on board of the OSIRIS-REx (Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer) space craft. It will be launched between September and October of this year, ready to take on outer space and head for asteroid Bennu. It’s a purely symbolic gesture, but it could serve to inspire some to learn more about NASA’s true mission.
It’s one of discovery, exploration, and a potential well of information on our solar system’s origins. And it could all start with asteroid Bennu.
The space rock is believed to be over 1,600 feet across and was chosen to be the first asteroid sample we return directly from space. The reason behind the choice is its relatively proximity to our planet along with a very interesting fact. Bennu has remained virtually unchanged since the formation of our solar system around 4 billion years ago. That means that its composition is potentially as primitive as we can possibly find. It could hold valuable information in just one sample.
The asteroid is rich in carbon, amino acids, and contains various organic molecules that might just offer answers about the origins of compounds, such as water, on Earth. According to Edward Beshore, OSIRIS-REx principal investigator, the original materials, like water, on our planet have been undoubtedly altered by geological events. They reacted with the atmosphere and suffered numerous chemical reactions.
However, those on Bennu have remained essentially unchanged since the formation of our very own solar system. That means that its composition is like “a time capsule” for us. It could hold valuable information about important elements found on our planet or others around us. OSIRIS-REx will collect a 2.1 ounce worth of sample when it lands on Bennu in 2018. The bit of space rock will be sent back to Earth in 2023. The spacecraft, on the other hand, will remain there for centuries, if not millennia, to come.
And it might use a bit of company. OSIRIS-REx already has 442,000 names on board as part of the Messages to Bennu project from 2014. Now, it’s ready to accept art of all kinds, ranging from photographs, graphics, videos, songs, or poems to accompany them. Everyone is encouraged to participate, and create something that will last for thousands of years and will orbit around our solar system.
According to Dante Lauretta, space exploration is a creative activity at its core. We are all explorers in our own way, whether it’s exploring space or the creating of a piece of art. Everyone interested is invited to participate in this great journey. The scientists are asking the public to submit their artwork, expressing how the spirit of exploration that the mission shows is found in their own lives. So, sending a picture of yourself lounging and watching Netflix might not be an acceptable entry.
Artists looking to submit their artwork can do so via Twitter or Instagram with #WeTheExplorers and tag them @osirisrex for the first or @osiris_rex for the latter. Send a visual of your spirit of exploration to an asteroid where it will last for years and endure outer space. Just like Bennu has for billions of years.
Image source: nasa.gov