When the EchoStar XVI television satellite lifts off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome later this year, it will be carrying a message to the future designed to last billions of years. As it swings in geosynchronous orbit 35,786 kilometers (22,236 mi) above our planet, it will have a gold-plated silicon disc bolted to it, nano-etched with 100 black-and-white images depicting life on Earth.
The disc is the culmination of the Last Pictures project by Trevor Paglen, artist in residence at MIT, and is funded by the non-profit Creative Time organization. The disc is the work of researchers at MIT and Carleton College, and is designed to last indefinitely in outer space without breaking down. By placing it in on a satellite in geosynchronous orbit, the disc might, barring intervention, remain in orbit until the earth is destroyed.
October 8, 2012
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