NASA offers chance to put name on time capsule satellite

3 Sep 2014

An artist's rendition of the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft. Image via NASA/Goddard

In its new trend of inviting public input on space missions, US space agency NASA is now calling on people to add their names to a time capsule satellite bound for an asteroid and to return in 2023.

The spacecraft bound for the asteroid Bennu will launch in two years’ time under the name the Origins-Spectral Interpretation-Resource Identification-Security-Regolith Explorer, or OSIRIS-Rex for short.

Due to rendez-vous with the asteroid in 2019, the craft will be part of the task of landing on the asteroid’s surface and returning 60g worth of material for scientific research.

For the general public, however, they now have the chance to add their images and Twitter messages into a digital time capsule that will makes its return in just under 10 years’ time.

A total of 50 images and 50 tweets will make it aboard the craft with the deadline for online submissions being 30 September.

Of course, the tweets and images can’t just be about anything, as NASA has asked they be related to the themes of solar system exploration in 2014 and predictions for space exploration activities in 2023.

Once the time capsule returns, mission control will view the messages and images and then post them online.

The asteroid landing will be part of NASA’s Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM), which will attempt a landing similar to that seen in the film Armageddon, whereby the agency will identify, capture and redirect a near-Earth asteroid to a stable orbit around the moon.

Once it has achieved this, astronauts will be sent into space to explore it in the 2020s, and return with samples.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic