Washington, Sep 3: NASA has invited the public to submit short messages and images on social media that could be placed in a time capsule aboard a spacecraft to be launched in 2016 for an asteroid study. Called the Origins-Spectral Interpretation-Resource Identification-Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx), the spacecraft will rendezvous with the asteroid Bennu in 2019, collect a sample and return the cache in a capsule to earth in 2023 for detailed study.
The robotic mission will spend more than two years atop the 500 metre wide asteroid and return a minimum of 60 grams of its surface material. Topics for submissions by the public should be about solar system exploration in 2014 and predictions for space exploration activities in 2023.
The mission team will choose 50 tweets and 50 images to be placed in the capsule. Messages can be submitted between Sep 2-Sep 30. “It is exciting to think that some people may formulate predictions and then have the chance to make their predictions a reality over the next decade,” said Jason Dworkin, OSIRIS-REx project scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.
This event is the second of NASA’s efforts to engage space enthusiasts around the world in the OSIRIS-REx mission, following the agency’s January invitation to participate in messages to Bennu, which asked the public to submit their names to be etched on a micro-chip aboard the spacecraft. When the sample return capsule returns to Earth in 2023 with the asteroid material, the mission team will open the time capsule to view the messages and images.