NASA is preparing to send its Lucy spacecraft into space in October, having the purpose of starting a 12-year journey to asteroids as well as six trojans of Jupiter. The spacecraft will be equipped with a time capsule for future Earthlings to find.
Gizmodo reveals that NASA will mount a time capsule on its spacecraft, one that consists of a plaque that has messages from Nobel Laureates, musicians, as well as a depiction of our Solar System’s configuration for October 16, 2021, meaning the launch date of the spacecraft.
A message to the future, but not for aliens
Other space probes have carried similar messages on board, but only by hoping that some extraterrestrial friends will find them. While it’s hard to believe that NASA has lost hope of encountering alien life somewhere, the space agency puts the time capsule on Lucy for future humans to see.
There’s even a compelling video on YouTube posted by the ‘NASA Goddard’ channel which explains the role of the time capsule that will be placed on Lucy:
Part of the official description writes:
In the 1970s four spacecraft began their one way trips out of our Solar System. As the first human-built objects to ever venture into interstellar space, NASA chose to place plaques on Pioneer 10 and 11 and golden records on Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft. Continuing this legacy, NASA’s Lucy Spacecraft will carry a similar plaque. However, because Lucy will not be venturing outside of our Solar System, Lucy’s plaque is a time capsule featuring messages to our descendants.
The Jupiter trojans, which are also commonly referred to as Trojan asteroids or just Trojans, are a large group of asteroids that share Jupiter’s orbit around the Sun. More than 9,800 Jupiter trojans were found by astronomers as of May 2021.