How long will it be up there? Fifty thousand years, give or take a few.
Elected in 1999 as UNESCO's "Project of the 21st century," KEO is the brainchild of French artist Jean-Marc Philippe. It's to be an orbiting time capsule consisting of a spherical body constructed of metal alloys strong enough to protect its precious payload and solar-powered wings that flap for no useful purpose (hint: There's no air up there). That's what you get when you let an artist design a satellite.
Who wrote the instructions in French? That'll be a dead language in six, seven years max.
So What Message Was Worth All This Trouble to Send?
So when the advanced beings who live on Earth 50,000 years from now float up alongside this giant metal space bug that fluttered down from the cosmos and pop it open with their mind powers, what will be awaiting them inside?
- A drop of human blood, plus samples of air, sea water and soil, all encased within a diamond engraved with the human genome
- An astronomical clock
- Portraits of people of all cultures
- The Contemporary Library of Alexandria, an "encyclopedic compendium of current human knowledge"
- The full, uncensored text of all the messages submitted by the public on KEO's website
- Pictorial schematics to build a DVD player (to read the messages)