If you could wish upon the Moon, and send your message there on a spacecraft, what would you say?
The Planetary Society, in conjunction with The Planetary Society of Japan and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), offers just that opportunity with the "Wish Upon the Moon" campaign to send names and messages on Japan's SELENE mission.
A few famous names stand out among the several thousand individuals who have already offered messages.
Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin offers a plan for the future, saying "Back to the Moon and on to Mars." Renowned science fiction author Ray Bradbury also has his eye on the Red Planet with the message, "Beyond the Moon, Mars beckons."
The creativity of wishes is limited only by the allowed character count of 60 characters for name and message combined.
Author Dava Sobel drew on the peaceful exploration of space for her heartfelt wish: "May we cooperate on Earth as we do in space."
The Planetary Society's Chairman of the board, Neil deGrasse Tyson, commented on the upcoming lunar exploration of the next decade with, "The Moon: Once a dream, Now our backyard"
Several members of the Star Trek community have also contributed messages:
Robert Picardo, the holographic doctor on Star Trek Voyager: "Thanks for getting our great adventure started"
Mike and Denise Okuda, authors of the Star Trek Encyclopedia and visual effects art for Star Trek TV series: "To the Moon, then on to Mars and beyond!"
Rick Sternbach, senior illustrator/designer for several Star Trek series and films: "If you see LRO, CEV and LSAM, say hello for me."
Adults and children alike can submit names and brief good wishes for inclusion on the spacecraft. After a name has been submitted, an official certificate of participation can be downloaded from The Planetary Society's website. The deadline for submissions is January 31, 2007.
JAXA was founded on October 1, 2003 as Japan's sole space agency by integrating three space-related organizations - the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science, National Aerospace Laboratory and National Space Development Agency.
SELENE's primary mission objectives will be to globally investigate the Moon from a scientific viewpoint, thereby creating a more detailed map of the lunar surface and learning more about the origin and evolution of the Moon. The mission also seeks to develop technology for future lunar exploration. The year-long mission is scheduled to launch in summer 2007 and enter lunar orbit about a month later.
SELENE, which stands for SELenological and ENgineering Explorer, consists of three separate spacecraft -- a main spacecraft that will begin circling the Moon in an elliptical orbit and two small relay satellites that will go into a polar orbit. The main spacecraft will assume a polar orbit for the scientific lunar investigation. The scientific instruments on board the main orbiter will measure the Moon's magnetic field and map its gravity field. Instruments will also measure elemental and mineral distribution, surface structure, and the lunar environment.
In the past, lunar missions consisting of single spacecraft have been unable to map the gravity field of the far side of the Moon. Gravity experiments require a real-time radio link to Earth, so when a lunar orbiting spacecraft disappears behind the Moon, it is impossible to acquire the necessary data. SELENE's Relay satellite will permit the spacecraft to conduct gravity experiments on the far side of the Moon by relaying the radio transmissions from that region to Earth in real time.
As part of their Messages from Earth campaign, The Planetary Society is also collecting names to fly to Mars aboard a specialized silica-glass DVD on Phoenix, NASA's first Scout mission, led by Principal Investigator Peter Smith at the University of Arizona. The Phoenix mission is being managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The disk, which is attached to the deck of the Phoenix lander, will include "Visions of Mars," a collection of 19th and 20th century stories, essays, and art inspired by the Red Planet. People around the world can add their own names (or those of family and friends). The deadline to submit names for this campaign is February 6, 2007.