NASA is asking the public to submit messages and images shared via social media for a time capsule that it will launch in 2016 alongside a scientific mission to the asteroid Bennu. The capsule is scheduled to return to Earth in 2023 with a sample of the 1,760-foot-wide asteroid.
The space agency will select 50 tweets and 50 images from the submissions it receives between September 2 and September 30. The entries should be space-themed, focusing on solar system exploration in 2014 and predictions for 2023. Use the hashtag #AsteroidMission on Twitter or Instagram to submit an idea.
The capsule will ride aboard the Origins-Spectral Interpretation-Resource Identification-Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx), which is expected to make contact with Bennu in 2019 and spend two years on its surface. The mission is focused on understanding the composition of the early solar system, and as such, the capsule will return with two ounces of materials for further study. When it returns to Earth in 2023, the capsule will be opened and the selected submissions will be posted online.
"Our progress in space exploration has been nothing short of amazing," Dante Lauretta, OSIRIS-REx principal investigator at the University of Arizona, Tucson, said in a statement. "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."