Odds are, you probably created a simple time capsule at some point during school, and enjoyed looking through it when you opened it up later on. Now NASA is installing a time capsule on its Lucy spacecraft intended for future humans, which is set to launch in October.
Lucy isn’t the first time capsule-style spacecraft humans have sent out into space. But while the Pioneer and Voyager probes were designed for whatever—or whoever—is lurking in interstellar space, Lucy will stay in our solar system and (hopefully) be recovered by future humans.
NASA worked with a variety of individuals to curate the contents of the capsule, which takes the form of a plaque. It features words from Nobel Laureates, Poet Laureates, and musicians along with a depiction of our solar system’s configuration as of October 16, 2021—the date Lucy is scheduled to launch on.
The Lucy Plaque, detailed more in the video below, includes some truly fantastic quotes from prominent people like Carl Sagan, Martin Luther King Jr., Albert Einstein, Kazuo Ishiguro, Juan Felipe Herrera, Charles Simic, Billy Collins, Rita Dove, Amanda Gorman, Orhan Pamuk, Joy Harjo, Brian May (of the band Queen), and all four Beatles. Each quote touches on topics central to the human experience like love, hope, cultural memory, the heavens, and eternity.
Once launched, the Lucy spacecraft will remain in a stable orbit traveling between Earth and the Trojan asteroids near Jupiter for hundreds of thousands of years, if not millions.
The quote by Charles Simic, Serbian American Poet and Pulitzer Prize winner, reads, “I’m writing to you from a world you’ll have a hard time imagining, to a world I can’t picture no matter how hard I try. Do you still have birds that wake you up in the morning with their singing and lovers who gaze at the stars trying to read in them the fate of their love? If you do, we’ll recognize one another.”
American writer and science journalist Dava Sobel also wrote, “We, the inquisitive people of Earth, sent this robot spacecraft to explore the pristine small bodies orbiting near the largest planet in our solar system. We sought to trace our own origins as far back as evidence allowed. Even as we looked to the ancient past, we thought ahead to the day you might recover this relic of our science.” Hopefully, future astronomer-archaeologists will recover the capsule, share this teeny bit of our history with their civilization, and remember us fondly.