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Time Capsule for the Red Planet Blueprinted

The planet Mars may be on the receiving end of a “Time Capsule of Humanity” orchestrated by an international team of university students.

The students are proposing to fly their time capsule to Mars via a CubeSat platform. This vehicle would carry a unique payload: a two-inch-diameter titanium sphere containing perhaps millions of digital photos, videos, audio files, and text messages from people all over the world.

If their goal is achieved the mission would be the first time a CubeSat would be flown to another planet. It would also be the world’s first interplanetary space mission led by a non-government team.

The entire mission is to be paid for by worldwide crowdfunding, with individuals having their digital creations survive for millennia on Mars for as little as 99 cents.

Game changer

The students are supported in their quest for Mars by a consortium of organizations, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Explore Mars, and Remarkable Technologies, Inc.

“This would be an extraordinarily challenging mission — a game changer,” said Dr. Paulo Lozano, Director of the MIT Space Propulsion Lab.

The current plan is to launch the spacecraft into orbit as a secondary payload of a commercial space launch, and then accelerate the spacecraft to escape velocity — and on its course to Mars – perhaps using novel electrospray thrusters.

Upload to Mars

Individuals from around the world will be invited to upload their digital creations for the voyage to Mars.

The digital files would be stored on the new quartz media being developed by such groups as Hitachi, Kyoto University, the University of Southampton, and others.

Once on Mars, the quartz memory that holds the digital files promises to be durable for millions of years.

Tools and resources

While the students are shaping the essential science and technologies required for the mission, they are also looking for creative names of both the spacecraft and the Mars “time capsule” lander.

The international team of students is targeting the end of this upcoming January to review and fine-tune the effort, establishing a detailed plan for a potential mission going forward.

“This project is being done without profit by all supporting entities. We’re essentially giving the tools and resources to the students and saying, ‘Go for it,’” said Eric Knight, Founder and President of the Connecticut-based Remarkable Technologies, Inc.

Early details of the mission can be seen here at:

By Leonard David


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