This September, NASA is launching its Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft on a return journey to the Bennu asteroid, and is inviting the public to send space-inspired art along for the galactic ride. NASA announced today that, through its “We the Explorers” campaign, any creator can tag @OSIRISREx on Twitter or @OSIRIS_Rex on Instagram with the hashtag #WeTheExplorers and their work will be included on a drive onboard OSIRIS-REx.
“We are inviting the world to join us on this great adventure by placing their artwork on the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft, where it will stay in space for millennia,” Dante Lauretta, principal investigator for OSIRIS-REx at the University of Arizona in Tucson, said in the release.
Sure, it’s not quite the Golden Record, Voyager’s phonograph record with carefully selected examples of human sound and artistic expression, but it’s a creative way to engage people with the mission. The call for art follows the 2014 “Messages to Bennu” campaign, in which you could add your name to fly aboard the spacecraft on another chip. Unlike the Golden Record, these messages are not intended for extraterrestrial viewing, unless their technology, against all odds, harmonizes with our own; they’re more symbolic of a collective force behind space exploration. OSIRIS-REx is intended to retrieve a sample of the asteroid for study on Earth, with the hope of revealing information about our solar system’s origin and thus humanity’s own beginnings.
Art has long been a part of space travel: cosmonaut Alexei Leonov brought along colored pencils to sketch an orbital sunrise on the Soviet Voskhod 2 in 1965; Apollo 12 left a ceramic chip on the moon etched with art by Andy Warhol, Claes Oldenburg, Robert Rauschenberg, David Novros, and John Chamberlain; and Apollo 15 transported Paul Van Hoeydonck’s tiny aluminum “Fallen Astronaut” sculpture to the lunar surface. You have until March 20 to submit your own art for OSIRIS-REx, as it sets off on its endeavor to better understand our universe.