NASA Probe Sends Beatles and Einstein Quotes into Space

Back in 1972, the Pioneer 10 and Pioneer 11 probes from NASA sent out a plaque with basic information about humanity. The intent was for any wandering extraterrestrial species to learn about the human race’s existence this way. Species who might come in contact with it in, say, about two million years. The 1977 Voyager probes had a similar “golden record.” You might have seen that referenced in Star Trek and The X-Files. But instead of aliens, NASA’s latest space message is for our future selves.

According to CNET (via DesignTaxi), NASA’s Lucy spacecraft will carry a plaque of its own. It will launch in October 2021 to the asteroids near Jupiter. This one serves as a kind of time capsule. It carries  words of wisdom meant to inspire our future descendants. Should we have any, that is. But hey, here’s hoping we have that Gene Roddenberry Star Trek future we all want and not the one from the Mad Max movies. You can listen to those words spoken by the people who said them in the video below.

So who exactly is Lucy named for? The official line is that it’s named after the fossil skeleton of a human ancestor, which was named Lucy. But folks at NASA have also admitted that inspiration came from The Beatles’ classic “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds.” This is why the part of the plaque comes inscribed with quotes from all four members of the Beatles. Lucy the primitive human left no such quotes to use, sadly.

Illustration of the NASA space probe Lucy


Other famous names quoted on the Lucy plaque include Albert Einstein, poet Joy Harjo, author Kazuo Ishiguro, Martin Luther King Jr, Brian May of the band Queen, Yoko Ono, and Carl Sagan. The late Carl Sagan was actually one of the folks behind the plaque for alien life on the Pioneer probes almost 50 years ago, so we think it’s very fitting.

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