CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida – NASA is inviting all space enthusiasts to send their artwork in a spacecraft to an asteroid.
NASA’s Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft is scheduled to launch aboard an Atlas V rocker in September from Cape Canaveral, Florida and travel to the asteroid Bennu. The spacecraft will voyage to Bennu to collect a sample of at least 60 grams (2.1 ounces) and return it to Earth for study. This will be the first U.S. mission to collect a sample of an asteroid and return it to Earth for study.
The #WeTheExplorers campaign invites the public to take part in this mission by expressing, through art, how the mission’s spirit of exploration is reflected in their own lives. Submitted works of art will be saved on a chip on the spacecraft. The spacecraft already carries a chip with more than 442,000 names submitted through the 2014 “Messages to Bennu” campaign.
A submission may take the form of a sketch, photograph, graphic, poem, song, short video or other creative or artistic expression that reflects what it means to be an explorer. Submissions will be accepted via Twitter and Instagram until March 20. For details on how to include your submission on the mission to Bennu, go to: http://www.asteroidmission.org/WeTheExplorers
“Space exploration is an inherently creative activity,” said Dante Lauretta, principal investigator for OSIRIS-REx at the University of Arizona, Tucson. “We are inviting the world to join us on this great adventure by placing their art work on the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft, where it will stay in space for millennia.”
Born from the rubble of a violent collision, hurled through space for millions of years, and dismembered by the gravity of planets, Bennu is believed to be one of the oldest asteroids in our solar system. Scientists expect Bennu may hold clues to the origin of the solar system and the source of the water and organic molecules that may have made their way to Earth.
Bennu may also harbor organic material from the young solar system. Organic matter is made of molecules containing primarily carbon and hydrogen atoms and is fundamental to terrestrial life. The analysis of any organic material found on Bennu will give scientists an inventory of the materials present at the beginning of the solar system that may have had a role in the origin of life.
Image and video credit: NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center Conceptual Image Lab