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‘Time Capsule On Mars’ Team Hopes To Send a Spacecraft There With Your Messages

Mars photographed with the Mars Global Surveyor.

Mars photographed with the Mars Global Surveyor.

It’s an ambitious goal: land three Cubesats on Mars sometime in the next few years for $25 million. And all this from a student-led team.

But the group, led by Duke University, is dutifully assembling sponsors and potential in-kind contributions from universities and companies to try to reach that goal. So far they have raised more than half a million dollars.

“We were thinking that something was missing,” said Emily Briere, the student team project lead who attends Duke University, explaining how it seemed few Mars missions were being done for the benefit of humanity in general.

“We want to get the whole world excited about space exploration, and why we go to space in the first place, which was to push forward mankind and to build new habitats,” she added. Prime among their objectives is to drive engagement in the kindergarten to Grade 12 audience by encouraging them to submit photos and videos to send to Mars.

Artist's conception of Mars, with asteroids nearby. Credit: NASA

Artist’s conception of Mars, with asteroids nearby. Credit: NASA

But that said, everyone can participate! The official launch of the project is today, and you can read more details about the crowdfunding campaign and how to get involved on the Time Capsule to Mars website. Contributions start at only a dollar, where you can send your picture to Mars. The spacecraft will be loaded with audio, video and text messages from Earth.

“Each satellite will contain a terabyte of data that will act as a digital ‘time capsule’ carrying messages, photos, audio clips and video contributed by tens of millions of people from all over the globe,” says the Time Capsule to Mars team. “The capsule will remain a vessel of captured moments of today’s human race on Earth in 2014, to be rediscovered by future colonists of the Red Planet.”

The team hopes to use ion electric propulsion to get their small spacecraft to the Red Planet. It would head to space itself on a secondary payload on a rocket. (Briere couldn’t disclose who they are talking to, but said ideally it would happen within the next two years.)

Some of the corporate sponsors including Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Aerojet while students come from universities such as Stanford, Duke and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

About 

Elizabeth Howell is the senior writer at Universe Today. She also works for Space.com, Space Exploration Network, the NASA Lunar Science Institute, NASA Astrobiology Magazine and LiveScience, among others. Career highlights include watching three shuttle launches, and going on a two-week simulated Mars expedition in rural Utah. You can follow her on Twitter @howellspace or contact her at her website.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • mewo June 23, 2014, 2:02 PM

    No thanks. I’m not interested in crowdfunding a project that, AFAICT, is not going to do any actual science. Their website is all glitz and no substance, but I was able to discover that the cubesats are going to be destroyed when they get to Mars and just dump their vanity wafers on the surface. This does not seem a good use of my money. If the cubesats carried a scientific payload and were to join the network of spacecraft orbiting Mars, then I would donate.

    But the most infuriating bit was this: “… explaining how it seemed few Mars missions were being done for the benefit of humanity in general.” Excuse me? What does the team lead imagine people do science for? And what benefit will this folly bring to humanity?

  • darkskies June 24, 2014, 8:33 AM

    Everything does not need to be purely scientific, sometimes there is just some fun involved. As far as good use of money, it is as little as 99 cents, not a huge investment. I for one enjoy a little folly and will participate, because I think it would be cool to have my family photos on another planet.

  • tareece June 24, 2014, 11:22 AM

    What a total waste of resources. This is the ultimate echo of what our society has become…. A perfect example of “Me”.
    To send cube sats to mars, one has to have a delivery system. It takes 9 mnths (about) to reach Mars.
    And then we just dump what amounts to “tweets” on a planet where man has yet to stepped on?
    Nice. Trash, or perhaps kindlier stated, societies ultimate narcissistic experiment, will be waiting on the first astronaut (or Indianaut…or Chinanaut) to step down and suffer a twisted freeking ankle while making the single biggest historic accomplishment ever by man.

    Get over yourselves. Put $25 million into something that will put MAN on Mars. THEN we can trash it.
    Freeking Dweebs. Figures it’d be Duke-ettes behind the plan.
    They want to “engage the k-12″ group. Fine. Engage them. Do penny drives. Do dime drives. Get them excited in science class. But don’t pretend that this “tweet” is real interest. Its aimed at conditioning them to continue funding a Space program for decades to come. (get’em while they’re young–the same marketing program that gave us Joe Camel–according to MSM Propaganda)
    As a RWE GOP true red stater (which I’ve never understood…because we hate “Reds” except the Cincinnati Reds cuz I love me some Rose and Votto and Frazier…and the dems get blue…but they are for progressiveness which correlates to the socialist red commie flag)…anyways as a RWE, I hate tax$ going to waste…. And be damned if these cubes ever leave the ground.

  • jimpct June 24, 2014, 1:31 PM

    In my opinion, the only good that can come out of this is if one or two of these students learns something from this endeavor that they can put to use helping to put humans on Mars. Otherwise, it seems to be a colossal waste of time and money.

  • Superluminal June 24, 2014, 11:28 PM

    My name, plus the names of several family members and one pet, are already on Mars at four locations. We blew a hole on Comet Temple 1 and are drifting along with Kepler. Coolest of all, we’re heading out of the solar system with New Horizons. Didn’t cost anything except the time it took to type all the names in. Now what I would be interested in would be sending my DNA into space. Sling shot it past Jupiter and out into interstellar space. That would really be cool, a billion years from now, your DNA frozen in deep space, but still some part of you still exists.

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