A new project from Uwingu to help address funding shortages for researchers, scientists, educators and students allows people from Earth to give a global “shout?out” to planet Mars. The project is called “Beam Me to Mars,” and it celebrates the 50th anniversary of the launch of f NASA’s Mariner 4 mission, the first successful mission to Mars.
“Nothing like this has ever been done,” Uwingu CEO Alan Stern told Universe Today. “It’s going to be a lot of fun, and, I think, historic.”
The messages will be beamed to Mars on November 28 using high-powered commercial transmitters owned by Universal Space Network (USN), a company that communicates daily with spacecraft in Earth orbit. They will transmit the Beam Me messages from antennas in Hawaii, Alaska, and Australia.
Since this is a fund-raiser, messages cost between $5 and $100, depending on how elaborate you’d like your message to be (and how much you’d like to give to support Uwingu’s goal to help fund research and space exploration.) Half of the money will go towards The Uwingu Fund that creates space research and education grants. The rest pays for transmission costs to Mars, and things like internet services, Uwingu product development and Uwingu business operations.
The messages can be as simple as just sending your name, or even include a longer message or images. These aren’t private messages, however. The entire message database will be searchable (no charge for that), and will be socially sharable, by anyone on the internet.
Who will get the messages? Well, since there are just robots there (as far as we know), no Martians will receive the messages. But Uwingu will also share messages with those who make decisions on space-related topics back here on Earth. “All of the messages will be hand delivered to Congress, to NASA, and to the United Nations,” says the Uwingu website.
Already, numerous space leaders and personalities like astronaut Chris Hadfield, authors Homer Hickam and Dava Sobel, Mars rover PI Steve Squyres, NASA GRAIL PI Maria Zuber, and Planetary Society President Jim Bell have penned messages to Mars as part of the project.
Uwingu says the radio beam from Earth will spread out to encompass all of Mars — just in case…
“We expect “Beam Me to Mars” to generate a lot of interest — as well as new funds for Uwingu space research and education grants we will make from a portion of the proceeds,” said Stern.