NASA invites public to send art to space

NASA’s upcoming mission to a near-Earth asteroid will take with it artworks submitted by explorers from around the world.
Artist's rendering of the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft at the asteroid Bennu
Artist's rendering of the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft at the asteroid Bennu

“Space exploration is an inherently creative activity,” says Dante Lauretta, principal investigator for OSIRIS-REx at the University of Arizona, Tucson. OSIRIS-REx will be the first U.S. mission to collect a sample of an asteroid and return it to Earth for study. As part of the #WeTheExplorers campaign, NASA has invited the public to take part in the mission by expressing, through art, how the mission’s spirit of exploration is reflected in their own lives.

“We are inviting the world to join us on this great adventure by placing their art work on the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft, where it will stay in space for millennia,” says Lauretta.

Set to launch in September, the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft will travel to the near-Earth asteroid Bennu. It will already be carrying a chip with more than 442 000 names submitted through the 2014 “Messages to Bennu” campaign. The artworks submitted, which will also be saved on a chip, may take the form of a sketch, photograph, graphic, poem, song, short video or other creative or artistic expression that reflects what it means to be an explorer.

“The development of the spacecraft and instruments has been a hugely creative process, where ultimately the canvas is the machined metal and composites preparing for launch in September,” said Jason Dworkin, OSIRIS-REx project scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “It is fitting that this endeavor can inspire the public to express their creativity to be carried by OSIRIS-REx into space.”

The mission aims to collect a sample of at least 60 grams and return it to Earth for study. The researchers hope the asteroid may hold clues to the origin of the solar system and the source of the water and organic molecules that may have made their way to Earth.

Art submissions will be accepted via Twitter and Instagram until March 20.

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