Help Science Research and Education
My friends over at Uwingu have a really cool new fundraiser effort going called “Beam Me to Mars”. I’m so jazzed by it that I’m taking off my porkpie journalism hat and participating in this global “shout out” to Mars as an avid Red Planet enthusiast.
The idea is this: in exchange for a donation that goes to support science research and education, you can beam a message to the planet Mars on November 28, 2014. That’s the 50th anniversary of the first-ever Mars mission, launched on November 28, 1964. Everybody’s messages will go to Mars as a stream of transmissi0ns via radio communications. Uwingu has already amassed an amazing collection of messages from such varied folks as Astronaut Chris Hatfield, Bill Nye, Dr. Maria Zuber, the famous Mars Curiosity “Mohawk” Mars guy Bobak Ferdowski, Dr. Lori Garver, writer Dava Sobel, and many others. I’m adding my message, as well, in my role as CEO of Loch Ness Productions and general Mars enthusiast.
In addition, Uwingu’s Youtube channel will be featuring a neat array of videos from various supporters (I’m adding mine toTHAT mix, too!), sharing their ideas about missions to Mars and why they support the “Beam Me to Mars” effort. I think this is a pretty snazzy effort, and pleased to see so many other folks hopping on the bandwagon. It’s the sort of effort that really captures the imagination! I mean, think of it — YOUR words and message going to Mars! It takes me back to the days when I played “Missions to Mars” as a little kid.
So, how do you participate? Go to Uwingu.com and select “Beam me to Mars”. Your message can be as simple as your name, or you can wax philosophical and even include images. You can send as many messages as you want, and prices start at $5.00. You have from now until November 5th,2014 to get your message(s) entered. All the messages will be sent at a rate of a million bits per second to Mars by Uwingu’s “Beam Me” transmission partner, Universal Space Network (a satellite communications provider). Messages will also be published on Uwingu’s Web page for other Mars fans to see.
So, why am I jazzed about this project? As a science writer, it has always been my interest to see increases in science and science education. Those things can only make positive contributions to our society. Uwingu’s outreach projects help provide much-needed funding to projects for science education and science research, and I like that. In today’s fiscally dicey times, really good science isn’t getting funded. And, even worse, science education continues to get short shrift. The founders of Uwingu saw a way to create unique science outreach projects to help fund both. They began with an ongoing exoplanet-naming project, plus their “Name a Crater on Mars” on a special Uwingu map that will be used by the Mars One mission in a few years. “Beam Me to Mars” is a particularly unique opportunity for anybody to send a message to Mars. Up til now, only scientists and engineers could do it.
The other reason that I’m psyched about “Beam Me to Mars” is that I’m a Mars enthusiast from way back. I always hoped I’d get to GO to Mars. Some years ago, I attended several meetings called “The Case for Mars” (predecessors to the Mars Society), and have always been fascinated with the Red Planet. In 2001, my company produced a fulldome video show called MarsQuest that has been very popular. In it, we explored the history of humanity’s fascination with the Red Planet, and gave our audiences a science-fiction look forward to what future Mars missions might be like. In the very early days of that show, high-resolution images of Mars landscapes were not as numerous as they are today, so we simulated Mars explorations of the future using great space art. Now, we are perhaps only a few short years away from sending the first human explorers to Mars, and I can’t wait to see their first “in situ” images of the Martian landscapes.
So, why not send a message to Mars? It costs less than a pizza, and your money will help create a better scientific and science education future through Uwingu’s grants to researchers and educators. Join me and let’s give a global shout-out to Mars this November.