“Messages to Bennu:” NASA invites public to send art to asteroid

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You may not ever get to go to space, but if you have a knack for art, you could send your paintings, poems or songs to an asteroid.

NASA is inviting the public to send art to an asteroid on its new spacecraft: the Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer, or OSIRIS-REx for short. The probe will be the first to collect a sample of asteroid and bring it back to Earth.

The spacecraft is scheduled to launch in September and travel to the asteroid Bennu to collect about 2 ounces (57 grams) of materials from the space rock and bring them back to Earth in 2023.

Bennu, formerly known as Asteroid 2012 DA14, passed within 22,000 miles of Earth on February 15, 2013. That’s close for an asteroid, NASA says, less than a tenth of the distance to the moon. The rock, which has a 538-yard (492-meter) diameter, makes a close pass by our planet every six years.

Scientists say this means there is a high probability that Bennu could hit Earth in 2182. This is why they want to learn more about it.

So why send art to an asteroid that could one day crash into our planet?

“The development of the spacecraft and instruments has been a hugely creative process, where ultimately the canvas is the machined metal and composites preparing for launch in September,’ said Jason Dworkin, OSIRIS-REx project scientist at NASA, in a news release.

“It is fitting that this endeavor can inspire the public to express their creativity to be carried by OSRIS-REx into space,” he said.

Interested? Here’s what the NASA invitation says you can send: A submission may take the form of a sketch, photograph, graphic, poem, song, short video or other creative or artistic expression that reflects what it means to be an explorer.

You have until March 20 to submit your artwork. It would join the 442,000 names submitted through NASA’s 2014 “Messages to Bennu” campaign.