The Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) will rocket to asteroid Bennu in September 2016, carrying artwork from artists around the world. The American space agency NASA is collecting works to be digitally saved on a computer chip aboard the vehicle.
Bennu is an asteroid that shows evidence of a rough history. The object was formed long ago during a violent collision, and pieces were later sheared off from gravitational forces of planets.
OSIRIS-REx will be the first spacecraft ever to land on an asteroid, collect material and deliver a sample back to Earth.
Artists looking to submit artwork to the mission should post their creations online with the hashtag #WeTheExplorers, using Twitter or Instagram. Submissions should also be tagged @osirisrex on Twitter or @osiris_rex on Instagram. Mission planners are asking participants to produce art expressing how the spirit of exploration, exemplified by the mission, is expressed in their own personal lives.
Participants are being encouraged to create artwork in any one of a number of formats, including photographs, graphics, videos (two minutes and 30 seconds or less), songs or poems.
"Space exploration is an inherently creative activity. 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," says Dante Lauretta, principal investigator for OSIRIS-REx at the University of Arizona.
Bennu could hold secrets to the origin of our solar system, and possibly even the ultimate source of life here on Earth. The mission will collect 2.1 ounces of material from the asteroid, which scientists believe could hold evidence of the formation of our family of planets, and samples of organic material similar to that which may have fallen to Earth long ago.
"We are all explorers in our own way. Whether it's an expedition to a distant asteroid, meticulous research revealing the inner workings of a tiny cell, or the creation of a moving song or poem, exploration is the essence of our human spirit," reads the mission page detailing the request.
The spacecraft is already carrying more than 442,000 names sent to mission planners as part of the Messages to Bennu campaign conducted in 2014.