Time capsules were always fun projects in school, as they challenged your creativity and filled you with nostalgia when you opened them years later. NASA takes the job a bit more seriously, making sure that humanity will be remembered in hundreds of thousands of years.
That’s why it decided to come up with a plaque that will be placed in its Lucy spacecraft, which is scheduled for launch later this fall, on October 16.
NASA calls this time-capsule the Lucy Plaque and it features messages for our descendants, from respected, valuable members of our society, dead or alive. The chosen ones are, among others, Nobel Laureates, inspirational figures who dedicated their time to contemplate the state of the human condition and our place in the universe. Some of the quotes on the Lucy Plaque belong to famous astronomer Carl Sagan, Albert Einstein, Martin Luther King Jr., guitarist Brian May of the band Queen (who is not only a rock legend but also a gifted astrophysicist), British novelist Kazuo Ishiguro, American poets Rita Dove, Juan Felipe Herrera and Billy Collins, to name some of them. There are also quotes from the four Beatles, who indirectly inspired the name of the mission with their song “Lucy in the sky with diamonds”.
In addition to the motivational quotes, the Lucy time capsule also includes a depiction of the Solar System on the day of the spacecraft’s launch (October 16, 2021).
A ceremony took place at the Lockheed Martin Space in Littleton, Colorado on July 9, when the Lucy plaque was installed on the spacecraft.
Lucy’s mission is NASA’s 13th one in its Discovery Program. Hopefully, it will be a lucky one, as the spacecraft has to take a 12-year journey to study eight different asteroids, including Trojans. Its purpose is to offer us insights into the variety of primordial bodies that built the planets, as explained by NASA.
Once it completes its mission, Lucy will keep traveling between our planet and the Trojan asteroids for hundreds of thousands, or even millions of years.