Messages from around the world will be beamed into space at the speed of light as part of a cultural project to create a celestial time capsule, scientists say.
In autumn this year, dispatches from the public will be converted into radio waves and broadcast towards the North Star, Polaris, reaching their destination in 434 years.
The interstellar message in a bottle will comprise of people’s responses to a single question: how will our present environmental interactions shape the future?
A Simple Response to an Elemental Message is a collaboration between the University of Edinburgh, the Royal Observatory of Edinburgh, and the UK Astronomical Technology Centre (UKATC) along with other partners.
Within 21 hours of transmission, the signal will have travelled deeper into space than humankind’s first message to the stars, Voyager 1, which was launched in 1977.
Project Coordinator Paul Quast said Polaris was chosen as the destination because of its cultural significance as a reference point for navigators and star gazers.
Researchers will be able to use the responses to gauge if there are significant geographical differences in how people think about the environment and the future of the planet.
“We are at a pivotal point in this planet’s history. Our present ecological decisions will have a massive impact on the future for all Earth’s inhabitants,” said Quast, a postgraduate student at Edinburgh College of Art.
“This project will create a culturally-inspired message in a bottle capturing global perspectives that will travel into space for eons,” said Quast.
The public can leave their contributions to be broadcast into the cosmos on the official website of the project.