NASA Wants to Launch Your Artwork Into Space

The mission is scheduled to launch in September.

A rendering of the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft landing on the asteroid Bennu. Photo: courtesy NASA.

NASA is looking for volunteers for its next mission—but this time around, they are seeking artists.

The near-Earth asteroid Bennu will become the first extra-terrestrial art gallery, with the space agency inviting the public to contribute works of art that are inspired by the spirit of exploration.

The project will follow other important moments in space art history, which include work by Invader traveling aboard the International Space Station, conceptual artwork on the UKube-1 satellite, and even a bonsai tree launched into space.

The upcoming mission, called Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer, or OSIRIS-REx for short, will be the first US space mission to bring a sample of an asteroid back to Earth. Scheduled to launch in September, OSIRIS-REx should reach Bennu in 2018.

When the spacecraft returns to Earth, it will leave a chip encoded with all of the submitted works of art on the asteroid. The project also has its own social media campaign, #WeTheExplorers, and has already received a number of submissions.

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

Scientists have calculated that Bennu, which came within just 22,000 miles of the Earth in 2013, could potentially collide with our planet in 2182. Studying a sample from the asteroid could provide information about the origins of the solar system and of water and organic molecules on Earth.

Submissions are open through March 20 (or until the hard drive is full), and can take the form of a sketch, photograph, graphic, poem, song, video, or “other creative or artistic expression,” according to the call for entries.

See more contributions to the project below:

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