With NASA’s support and a global outreach, a time capsule featuring media from all over the world could soon land on Mars. President Obama has predicted that NASA will launch a manned mission to Mars by 2030. However, people around the globe can now virtually land on the red planet even sooner. For 99 cents, participants can have their photo, video, audio clip, or even bits of text sent to Mars in a quartz-crystal memory module, which can store terabytes of data, with a time capsule built to last for millions of years for future Mars occupants to open and decode.
The student-led project kicked off its campaign Monday with the goal of sending probes to Mars and getting it funded through the time capsule campaign. The project wants to enable millions of people all over the world to send their digital media to space while motivating and educating students from kindergarten to 12th grade by allowing them to be a part of the entire project, from uploading their chosen media file, to tracking the spacecraft up until it lands on the surface of the red planet. The project will be the first interplanetary mission led by students, and the first to use CubeSats, a type of miniature satellite used for space research, on an interplanetary mission.
To be a part of the global scrapbook being launched to space, uploading one digital media content costs 99 cents for developed countries, while uploading is free for third-world countries thanks to sponsors such as NASA. The Time Capsule to Mars project wants everyone to have an equal chance of getting his or her upload sent to space in an effort to unite humanity and increase global collaboration.
According to the campaign’s website, they will be implementing new technology during the mission such as “deep space Internet communications, inflatable antennae, and novel interplanetary radiation sensors.” Although using new technology can sometimes go awry, the students and mentors have expressed their confidence that the mission will be successful. The new technology used will be able to reduce travel time to Mars to a mere four months or less.
The estimated cost of building and launching the time capsule and carrier is around $25 million, which will include all costs needed for the entirety of the mission. Besides the participants paying to upload their digital media, the project will also be funded through corporate donations.
The design, communications, launch, and machine controls will be led by students from Duke University, MIT, Stanford University, and the University of Connecticut. They will be under the mentorship of space engineers and former astronauts Kent Rominger, Charlie Precourt and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, as well as getting additional support from NASA for the globally inclusive Time Capsule to Mars.
Duke University senior Emily Briere is the mission director for the Time Capsule to Mars. The idea stemmed from a conference she and her fellow students were attending called Humans 2 Mars, hosted by Explore Mars. Briere had noticed that the main bulk of attendees at the summit were older generations who were more concerned about the fame they would receive by landing a man on Mars, as opposed to the technological exploration of the mission. During the conference, Briere and a group of other students gathered at a TGI Fridays and discussed how they could get the younger generations, and more people in general, to be excited about the aspect for technological advancement through space exploration. That is when they came up with the idea for Time Capsule to Mars.
“I’m one of the leaders of a space endeavor that we believe could refocus and remind ourselves what it’s all about,” Briere said at a conference for the National Space Club. “It’s about our collective future in the Universe.”
If the project reaches its goal of $25 million, participants across the globe will be able to watch their photos and other digital media be sent to Mars. With support from Lockheed Martin, Boeing and NASA, the global Time Capsule to Mars plans to launch by 2017.
By: Addi Simmons