NASA reveals the “Message in a Bottle” to be sent into space to explore extraterrestrial life

March 24, 2024 | by

For quite some time, humans have been interested in finding life outside of our planet. To explore the possibility, scientists from NASA are sending a message in a bottle into space to communicate with the extraterrestrials, as per Good News Network. Such an effort has been made before as well, in the form of Voyager 1 and 2 in 1977. It was a 12-inch gold-plated copper phonograph with a message about Earth’s diversity and culture in the form of sounds and recordings. Before that, pioneers 10 and 11 were sent with the date and time of their origin. The newest initiative called “Message in a Bottle,” a mission that will be sent to Jupiter’s moon Europa, is the most ambitious of the lot.


According to the NASA website, “Water connects Earth and Europa, the two ocean worlds NASA’s Europa Clipper spacecraft travels between on its journey. The existence of a vast ocean on a moon of Jupiter – which the Europa Clipper mission is equipped to decisively confirm and characterize – is what makes Europa such a promising place to better understand the astrobiological potential for habitable worlds beyond Earth.”

As per the website, the campaign is a special initiative uniting art and science through the collaboration of NASA, the U.S. Poet Laureate Ada Limone and the Library of Congress. The Europa Clipper will carry a message from the Earth through an inscribed plaque that carries Ada Limone’s poetry “In praise of mystery: A Poem For Europa“, a picture of a bottle floating in the ocean, and a microchip at the center of the picture carrying names of 2.6 million people submitted by the public.


“NASA’s Message in a Bottle campaign invites people around the world to sign their names to a poem written by the U.S. Poet Laureate Ada Limón. The poem connects the two water worlds — Earth, yearning to reach out and understand what makes a world habitable, and Europa, waiting with secrets yet to be explored,” the website says about the project. The plaque also consists the Drake equation, formulated by astronomer Frank Drake in 1961 to formulate the possibility of advanced civilizations beyond the Earth. To the left of the poem, there is a portrait of one of the founders of planetary science, Ron Greeley, whose efforts to develop the Europa Clipper two decades ago helped lay the foundation of the mission. In between the visual, there is a representation of radio frequencies that could make interstellar communication possible.


On the other side of the plate, linguists collected sound recordings of the word “water” in 103 languages, converted them into image form, and engraved the representations on the plaque. The word water was chosen because it is believed that Europa has an ocean below its icy crust and has more water than all of the Earth’s oceans combined. The plaque is made up of a metal called tantalum and is 7 by 11 inches in size. The Europa Clipper is set to launch from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida in October 2024 and reach Jupiter by 2030 and conduct 50 flybys around the moon. The three major objectives of the mission are to determine the thickness of the moon’s icy shell and its surface interactions with the ocean below, to study its composition, and to understand its geology to better understand the potential of life on the moon. 



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