Sending a Message to the Red Planet
A month or so ago I wrote about the latest Uwingu.com fundraiser for science research and education. It’s called “Beam Me to Mars” and it lets you send a message of your own choosing to Mars. On November 28, 2014, the 5oth anniversary of the first mission to get to Mars, Uwingu will beam a collection of messages from celebrities, regular folk, and companies and space organizations to the Red Planet via satellite. I’ve sent MY message along, and I hope you do, too. The costs to send a message range form $5.00 to send a name and a pre-written message to $100.00 to send a name, a 1,000-character message, and an image.
I was talking to my friend Alan Stern, one of the folks behind the Uwingu Beam Me to Mars, Name a Mars Crater, and exoplanet-naming fundraisers, and he told me that the team has added a new capability to the Beam Me campaign: for donors who spend $100.00, they can choose to send a voice recording or music in place of the image. There’s more information on the page about what you can send, so if you’re interested, head on over.
Now, you might be wondering just WHO is ON Mars to receive this wodge of messages that will fly out at the speed of light in November. It’s a good question. The obvious answer is after 50 years of exploration, there’s still nobody on Mars. Two robot explorers are on the ground. However, in light of the many missions we’ve sent to the Red Planet, as well as the upcoming human missions (which could start as early as the early part of the next decade if the Mars One people are successful), think of it as a tribute to Mars and humanity’s ongoing fascination with the place.
Not only will Mars get the global shout-out, but Uwingu plans to send the combined messages to NASA, Congress, and the United Nations. In addition you can read people’s messages on the Uwingu site, if they have elected to make them public (there’s a handy checkbox for you to click on if you want to keep your message private).
What’s the real outcome of this project? Money for science research and education. Uwingu has already made grant money available from its various fundraisers to scientists and educators who want to further our knowledge in space and teach it to the next generation. So, part of the money you pay to participate in “Beam Me” or their Mars crater-naming project, or the exoplanet-naming project goes to those two very good causes. You can read more about Uwingu’s donations and support on their Web page. And, stay tuned for more cool announcements about Beam Me to Mars! It’s a movement!