In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the launch of the Mariner 4 mission back in 1964, Uwingu has beamed 90,000 messages, pictures and names to Mars on Nov. 28, the very first time a transmission from Earth will be sent by radio to the Red Planet.
Hosted at Uwingu.com, the "Beam Me to Mars" project started at just a little after 3 p.m. Eastern Time Friday in the United States and repeated twice. It will include logos from more than 25 space organizations and corporations who have supported the project, as well as messages from various celebrities, such as George and Brad Takei, Seth Green and Clare Grant, Bill Nye, Chris Hadfield (former International Space Station mission commander), Richard Garriott (commercial astronaut), Lori Garver (former NASA deputy administrator), Mary Miranda (NBC's The Voice Season 4 participant), Homer Hickam (author and screenwriter) and Dava Sobel (Pulitzer-winning author and playwright).
Through the Universal Space Network, Uwingu will be beaming the transmission at a rate of 1 million bits per second. Traveling at the speed of light, the messages arrived on Mars after just 15 minutes of being sent. All messages were copied and the copies will be delivered to the U.S. Congress and NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C. as well as the United Nations in New York City. This is to show policymakers the importance of public funding in space exploration.
"We want to make an impression on leaders. The more messages, the bigger impression it makes. If this thing goes viral, and it becomes the thing to do, then it'll make a huge impression," said Alan Stern, Uwingu CEO and former NASA science chief.
To gather messages for the "Beam Me to Mars" project, Uwingu invited the public to send in their own for a fee. Every name to be beamed to the Red Planet costs $4.95, while a long message with a picture costs $99. Submissions were gathered between Aug 19 and Nov 5.
The money generated by the "Beam Me to Mars" project will be used to fund space education, exploration and science.
The Mariner 4 accomplished its mission seven months after it launched, completing a flyby of Mars and returning with the first close-up images of another planet taken in deep space. When the first images of Mars depicted a dry, desolate planet, this dashed the hopes some had that the Red Planet could be explored as a potential home for extant life.