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Bruce BettsSeptember 2, 2014

Submit Predictions to Fly in an Asteroid Time Capsule

and Remember to Fly Your Name

You have four weeks left (until September 30, 2014) to submit names to send to an asteroid, and now you can also separately submit space exploration predictions or images to send in a time capsule to and from that same asteroid. Both sets of information will fly etched on microchips on board the NASA OSIRIS-REx (Origins-Spectral Interpretation-Resource Identification-Security-Regolith Explorer) spacecraft. The mission is an asteroid sample return mission that will fly to the asteroid Bennu, named by a naming contest The Planetary Society helped run in our role as a public outreach partner on the mission.

The spacecraft will rendezvous with the asteroid in 2019, collect a sample and return the cache in a capsule to Earth in 2023 for detailed study. Returning with that cache will be the names of those who wished to send their names to an asteroid and also a time capsule. You can still submit your name or those of your friends and relatives here on our site at

Now, via social media, you can also submit short messages and images that could be placed in a time capsule aboard the spacecraft. This idea flowed out of discussions between us and the OSIRIS-REx project, and now they are implementing this fun way to engage the public and take advantage of the long duration of the mission, which launches in 2016, arrives in 2019, and returns with samples in 2023. The Planetary Society ran a somewhat different time capsule contest in 2006 that yielded a purely digital time capsule that will be “opened” next year as New Horizons approaches Pluto. OSIRIS-REx, as a sample return, will be able to deliver an actual physical, albeit tiny, time capsule back to Earth.

As stated in the NASA Press Release “Topics for submissions by the public should be about solar system exploration in 2014 and predictions for space exploration activities in 2023. The mission team will choose 50 tweets and 50 images to be placed in the capsule.”

The principal investigator of the mission, Dante Lauretta, said of this opportunity, “Our progress in space exploration has been nothing short of amazing. I look forward to the public taking their best guess at what the next 10 years holds and then comparing their predictions with actual missions in development in 2023.”

Find out how to submit your predictions via Twitter or Instagram at:

And, don’t forget to submit names to fly to Bennu and back. Names will return to Earth in the sample return capsule and also remain in space aboard the carrier spacecraft.

Read more: Messages from Earth, Planetary Society Projects, fun, asteroids, OSIRIS-REx, events and announcements

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Bruce Betts

Chief Scientist / LightSail Program Manager for The Planetary Society
Read more articles by Bruce Betts

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