Update September 5, 2017: NASA has finally chosen a winner for its #MessagetoVoyager contest and announced the lucky Twitter user in the best way.
Recode reports that NASA enlisted the OG Captain Kirk, William Shatner, to read the winning message, which was sent to Voyager 1 via an antenna situated just outside of Madrid. The winner, Oliver Jenkins (@Asperger_Nerd), will have his message alongside the Golden Record, which was sent into space with Voyager 1.
Jenkins' tweet reads, "We offer friendship across the stars. You are not alone."
The Golden Record is a "gold-plated copper phonograph record" which has a welcoming message to any extraterrestrials that stumble upon it alongside images of from Earth, including snaps of the Great Barrier Reefs, a human fetus, and a color spectrum. The tweet won't get etched onto the record, but NASA reports that Voyager 1 got the message, which had to be translated into "command message format," after 19 hours. That may seem like a long time, but the data had to travel over 10 billion miles to reach its destination.
Both Voyager 1 and its sister spacecraft, Voyager 2, have been exploring the solar system for 40 years, so it's about time that a new message got added to the mix of photos and audio on the Golden Record. While aliens have yet to respond (or have they?), maybe the new message from NASA and Jenkins will finally get our outer space pals to start talking.
This story was originally published on August 7, 2017.
If you've ever wished you could send a message to whatever extraterrestrial beings may be out there, now's your opportunity: NASA is hosting a competition on Twitter for people to write messages to the Voyager mission, an exploration project consisting of spacecrafts called Voyager 1 and Voyager 2.
You can enter by tweeting a message consisting of 60 characters or less with the hashtag
#MessageToVoyager by August 15. Then, NASA, the Voyager team, and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory will pick their favorites, and the public will vote on one to beam into space. The message will be sent out on September 5 to celebrate four decades since the spaceships' launch. However, given all the space it has to travel, it won't actually reach Voyager 1 until September 6, Mashable reports.
Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 have made a longer journey than any other spacecraft ever, discovering volcanoes and oceans on Jupiter's moons and other previously unknown sites. The mission revealed "how complex and dynamic the solar system really is," NASA chief scientist Ed Stone told NPR. "So time after time, what we thought we knew based on earth was just much too limited in terms of what nature really does."
People are already beginning to share what they'd like whoever is out there to know. Some opted for uplifting messages.
Others went the humor route.
Some felt the need to apologize to the rest of the universe on Earth's behalf.
Of course, people didn't miss the chance to get in a Dr. Who reference.
Before Voyager 1 and 2 first set off into space in 1977, astronomer Carl Sagan, his wife, and their team created the Golden Record, a phonographic record with sounds and images aimed at representing the Earth. It includes animal noises, greetings in 55 languages, and music from different countries. The tweet that's selected will serve as a new Golden Record of sorts.
Since it's permanent, the Golden Record probably has a better chance of eventually reaching extraterrestrial life, or perhaps future earthlings. But beaming words into space still may be worth a shot, because you never know who's listening.