NASA is giving social media lovers the chance to go to space. The space agency is bringing tweets to space as part of its round-trip mission to an asteroid to study the formation of the solar system.
NASA's Origins Spectral Interpretatio Resource Identification Security Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft will be sent into space in 2016 to explore the nearby asteroid Bennu, which could potentially impact the Earth. The mission will study the asteroid's size, composition and acceleration so that researchers could predict a threatening collision.
Bennu formed from dust and gas that remained from the nebular that collapsed to form the sun. The other objective of the mission will be to analyze the asteroid's composition in-depth, which will be a way to study the history of the solar system.
"This asteroid is a time capsule from the birth of our solar system and ushers in a new era of planetary exploration," NASA Planetary Science Division Director Jim Green says.
Studying the formation of the solar system is a time capsule-like mission in itself, but NASA is taking social media users along for the ride to create its own time capsule project. Social media users are asked to send messages predicting how we will communicate and where we will be in the solar system in 2023. People can send tweets and Instagram photos with the hashtag #AsteroidMission to have their messages be selected for the time capsule.
OSIRIS-Rex will land on the 493-meter diameter asteroid in 2019 and map its surface while collecting samples for a total of 505 days. The spacecraft will head back to Earth in 2021 to return in 2023.
"Our progress in space exploration has been nothing short of amazing," says Dante Lauretta, OSIRIS-REx principal investigator at the University of Arizona, Tucson. "I look forward to the public taking their best guess at what the next 10 years holds and then comparing their predictions with actual missions in development in 2023."
The team will select the 50 best tweets and Instagram images that will travel to space in a time capsule with a microchip that will have the names of the users.
Social media users have until September 30 to send their hashtagged messages. You can find more submission guidelines on the official Asteroid Time Capsule website.