Sound like science fiction?
“You want to hear something really nutty? I heard of a couple guys who want to build something called an “airplane,” you know you get people to go in, and fly around like birds, it’s ridiculous, right?
And what about breaking the sound barrier, or rockets to the moon, or atomic energy, or a mission to Mars?
Science fiction, right?
Look, all I’m asking, is for you to just have the tiniest bit of vision. You know, to just sit back for one minute and look at the big picture. To take a chance on something that just might end up being the most profoundly impactful moment for humanity, for the history… of history”
Ellie Arroway (Jodie Foster) in the movie “Contact” adapted from the book by cosmologist Carl Sagan.
Why is the 1Data Capsule Mission so important?
Humanity has only lived on the Earth for a couple million years. We’ve only recorded our thoughts for a few thousand, and we’ve only had the capability to digitize our thoughts for the last fifty years.
Wouldn’t it be a great tragedy if the Earth were destroyed before we colonized other planets or before we made first contact? If the knowledge of who we are is lost?
The mission of 1DataCapsule is to send data to be found and deciphered by our galactic neighbors and stored in digital museums across the universe, as a way to preserve events on our “pale blue dot”.
Back in 1969 we launched Pioneer 1 & 2 followed by the Voyager1 and Voyager2 spacecraft. They are now zipping beyond our solar system. But the message aboard them was analog and limited in content. There was a small committee that decided the content of the message.
This time around, we’ll use the power of connected people to collaborate over the Internet to create new technology and an all encompassing message and a digital backup from anyone and everyone. We will “piggy back” on some amazing rocket science advancements – to be able to transport the data as envisioned within realistic financial limits.
Like the spacecrafts Voyager1 and Voyager2 before it, 1DataCapsule mission will carry a message from all of humanity. Only this time around, it will be an all encompassing collective message from all of humanity and that will serve as a backup of our existence that is sent out into the Cosmos.
The message will probably contain over 100 billion times more data than the simple analog message on board Voyager2.
This is not fantasy.
This is not a figment of imagination any more. This is you. Your digital life. Your personal message into the cosmos.
Saved Forever in the Universe… life insurance for the experience of the human race.
Is it possible for the Earth and everything on it to be destroyed?
We’re sorry to tell you this, but yes, it’s possible.
Yes, it has a low probability, but it’s possible nonetheless.
Give a statistician enough time in his calculations, and he’ll tell you the probability is 1: it will definitely occur.
There could be several reasons for the total destruction of the Earth and all life as we know it.
We may self-destruct by destroying ourselves and everything on Earth in a nuclear holocaust.
We may become extinct as a result of an unavoidable calamity, like a massive asteroid collision.
Perhaps we create an AI and machines that we lose control of and take over things in a “Terminator” like future?
Or even, although more far-fetched (and sci-fi like)… it is possible that a fierce aggressive alien species finds Earth and harvests us and its resources for its survival.
The point is that we live in dangerous times in a hazardous universe. If we wish to guarantee that something of ourselves is left, if and when the unthinkable occurs, we must take active steps to preserve the essence of who we are.
What happens if everything on the Earth is destroyed?
Obliteration would mean the extinction of everything living thing; all the information and knowledge; everything we’ve created… and everything that’s happened in time here on Earth would be gone.
Perhaps there would be a few traces of silent satellites, and a few dead mars rovers waiting forever for their next command.
Not only would all life be destroyed; there would be no way for any intelligent alien species to rediscover who we really were.
This would pose a problem to them somewhat like our modern archaeologists who struggle to decipher the life and times of ancient civilizations of the past here on Earth, even when there is evidence of their lives.
What message will be sent on and transmitted from 1Data Capsule?
The idea of 1Data Capsule is inspired by Voyager1 and 2, conceived by the brilliant cosmologist Carl Sagan.
However, Voyagers 1 and 2 had very limited amounts of data stored on board and the data that was stored on board and sent as a message from humankind, was selected by a few people having who were close to the mission back then.
1Data Capsule’s data will be selected not by a small group of people, but by humanity itself. Anyone can store any data they choose by making a small contribution.
We will probably allow anyone to send everything and anything, within the parameters of good taste, as defined by the core mission team.
Fact, fiction, Language, science, religion, math, music, movies, books… everything.
Any and all knowledge as we Humans have collected and recorded.
Perhaps Wikipedia will be presented in the earlier segments, with true clickable links that help them navigate and demonstrate how we as humans navigate information and collaborate.
Perhaps a mini version of the Internet and Google and the most visited websites on the Internet?
And, since the message have a “primer” we can send visual data, audio and perhaps smell and taste data as well that could be reconstructed easily by an technologically advanced species.
How complex will it be to build 1Data Capsule?
Ask any rocket scientist, and they’ll tell you how challenging this really is. The technology to build 1Data Capsule exists today. We’ve already sent missions to Mars; already explored the surface of the red planet to a limited extent.
In this case, we’re doing both more (in terms of the amount of data we’re sending), and less (in terms of the capabilities of the module) than we’ve ever done before.
Building a mission like this will be a big technological challenge. but we believe it’s possible to make this happen within the next 5 to 10 years… perhaps sooner.
What does the current proposed construction of 1Data Capsule look like?
You can think of the mission as creating and seeding the only safe digital backups of the Earth. We are planning to follow the popular 3-2-1 data backup rule, which basically says that we should have three different backups of anything we care about.
And so, we’re planning to have these 3 backup modules in line with our mission goal…
Module 1 : A physical data capsule stored on Mars – that will be sent on board a SpaceX or Blue Origin mission.
Module 2 : An interstellar radio transmission of the data stored on Mars sent into space from the surface of Mars.
Module 3 : A space craft much alike Voyager 1 and Voyager 2, storing and carrying the data on board.
Each of these will be built separately and collaboratively at their own planned schedules. Module 1 and Module 3 may also store a physical copy of the data in bitplain format and perhaps DNA footprints of millions of species and humans. We may even send physical pictures etched in gold or glass and protected to last 10,000 years. It’s really too early to predict what additional forms the mission takes.
Why are we currently betting on the radio module to be placed on Mars?
There are several advantages to siting the data capsule to transmit radio from a fixed location on the surface of Mars:
- Mars has a thin atmosphere, small meteorites will burn up before they can damage or destroy the capsule.
- Mars is farther from the Sun, and is subject to fewer magnetic disturbances than the Earth. This, coupled with the thinner atmosphere of the red planet, allows more of the radio signal to propagate into space rather than be reflected back to the surface.
- Radio waves travel at the speed of light, and are not bound to any physical medium. Gold plated records, inscribed tablets, computers, and other data carrying apparatus travels at the speed of its container, and can very easily be destroyed.
- Magnetic disturbances caused by large planetary bodies, close approaches to stars during travel, passing alien spacecraft, etc. could potentially erase data stored on magnetic media. Siting the capsule in a fixed location avoids or at least mitigates this risk.
- The capsule itself is a payload, it will contain no means of locomotion or propulsion of its own. This saves tremendous expense of fuel, engines, etc. The possibility exists that we well build a rover to carry the capsule about on the surface, but even then, no rocket technology will be required.
How much will the project cost and how much will it cost to send every megabyte of data?
The answer is, we don’t know for sure as yet. That’s why we’re not charging for the initial people to sign up and get their 100 MB of data, in exchange for helping spread the word.
To arrive at our mission cost, we first need to decide everything that will get included into launching a spacecraft and mission like this – which will happen once we have a core mission team in place. We plan to send the modules on board a SpaceX or Blue Origin mission as secondary payload.
Once they calculate the approximate total cost for building and running a mission of this magnitude, and how much data can be seeded on each of the different modules – we will calculate the cost per megabyte of data for anyone to upload and send data.
This idea is in its formative stages, and of course may change as time goes on. There are risks associated with this project of course, but all the technologies involved are well known and already in existence.
The total cost of the project will depend on a number of factors, some of which are:
- cost of lifting the total weight of the capsule and possible rover into orbit, into a transfer orbit to Mars, into Mars orbit, and landing it safely on the surface.
- cost of hardening and protecting the data against solar radiation during the trip and on the surface of Mars.
- Development cost of radio equipment, associated cost of frequency allocation with the FCC and/or world governing radio bodies.
- The cost of building the actual space probe for module 3.
How will the construction of 1Data Capsule be funded?
1Data Capsule will be a true crowdfunded effort. It will initially be free for the first set of people to sign up. After that, it is proposed that there be a small fee for every 100 MB of data that anyone uploads.
We yet have to figure out the average cost to launch 100 MB of data into space on the 3 modules. This is something that can be calculated and worked out once the core team of rocket scientists and mathematicians volunteer to come on board.
We are also looking for sponsored donations from people and companies that want to occupy certain areas of the message sector itself and in the mission launch and media communications etc.
If you would like to sponsor the mission, please sign up and login to your dashboard to access the sponsorship options.
Who will help build future ideas, concepts and designs for the mission?
We want to meet people with crazy ideas.
It’s really up to the collective community of thinkers, engineers, designers, futurists, artists and sci-fi fans to band together and come up with the best proposed ideas for the mission and the construction of the modules.
And, of course since this mission is 100% crowdsourced and democratic in nature – we’ll vote to shortlist significant ideas and things related to the mission. And, in the end, we will have a “core mission team” that has the final word.
How long will this take to construct until launch day?
We don’t know yet. But we’re assuming, perhaps 5 to 10 years, but maybe module 1 can be ready in 2 years in time for SpaceX’s first payload mission to Mars!
Currently our initial team has no experience building rockets, we have the power of the Internet and its ability to act as an efficient crowdsourcing tool to gather together a global community of supporters and volunteers under one common goal.
And that we believe is enough to make the mission real.
What else could we send on-board 1Data Capsule?
As the idea gains traction, we know there will be an increasing list of suggestions. There could be a limited number of names placed on a fixed tablet using bitplain or something aboard the capsule, but those people would have to pay the aggregate cost of weight to do this.
Data costs nothing… that is, the data itself costs nothing. The weight media to store the data is the cost. We might also investigate the possibility of storing and sending DNA samples on module 2 and 3. We may even send physical pictures etched in gold or glass and protected to last 10,000 years. It’s really too early to predict what additional forms the mission takes.
How does 1Data Capsule compare with Voyager1 and Voyager2?
Again, we don’t know at this point what form the final project will take, but it’s likely that there will actually not be an actual spacecraft being built for this (module 3 if the costs are too prohibitive).
Although we hate a comparison with The Voyager missions, it truly is the father of this idea, without which this vision would not exist today.
Here are some things that will be more advanced given that science and technology have advanced multifold since the launch of Voyagers 1 and 2.
- The data sent on the Voyager missions was in the form of a gold record: our data will be preserved digitally on some form of magnetic or laser media.
- Since we will be in relatively close proximity to the capsule in module 1 and 2 – for the duration of the mission (only a maximum of 16 light-minutes away), it will be possible to get data back from the capsule. There are various possibilities that this opens up that were not available to the scientists on the Voyager missions.
- Voyager was Constructed and funded by United States scientists. Our project will be constructed and funded by a global community.
- The Voyager mission was tasked with observation of distant planets, and reporting of that data back to Earth. Our mission is the preservation of our thoughts for a time when we are no longer able to speak for ourselves.
- The Voyager mission relied on one chance to find a spacecraft or planet, 1Data Capsule consists of three separate data backup modules and the radio module relies on single site based radio propagation, which significantly lowers the risk of destruction of the data.
- The additional storage space in 1Data Capsule will allow us more space to provide a primer: a digital key to understanding and reading all the data that is subsequently sent.
- The Voyager missions contained a message letter signed by the President of the United States. Our letter will not be signed by any one person, but composed collaboratively by humans everywhere, like a wiki. It could even be a series of images, not written in any one language / script.
- Voyager2 had a gold disc and message of this and that. Total storage no more than 1 MB. 1Data Capsule will warehouse millions of times more data. Since the mission will also have a permanent location on Mars, the possibility also exists to send a batch of data, then refresh the data onboard with new data. If this turns out to be possible, we’ll have literally unlimited data storage available to the project.
- Voyager 2 carries photos of the Earth and its lifeforms, a range of scientific information, spoken greetings from the people (e.g. the Secretary-General of the United Nations and the President of the United States, and the children of the Planet Earth) and a medley, “Sounds of Earth”, that includes the sounds of whales, a baby crying, waves breaking on a shore, and a collection of music, including works by Mozart, Blind Willie Johnson, Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode”, Valya Balkanska and other Eastern and Western classics and ethnic performers. 1DataCapsule will carry whatever you want it to. Your thoughts, your dreams, pictures, music, anything. Not chosen by a small committee, but created by the people of Earth.
How will 1Data Capsule store and send data into space?
We want the data to be stored in 3 separate modules (following the 3-2-1 data backup module)…
- a mars physical data capsule storage module
- a mars radio transmission module, and
- a spacecraft module
The point is, we’re not inventing the technology; some of the technology we intend to use is very well established. We will need help from the scientific and engineering communities to put the project together and see it fly.
This is currently a vision, not a product.
There are many unanswered questions open to debate at this point of time, and many more that we’ve not even thought of. One pressing question that requires intense debate is –
Should the data sent be screened and moderated or should we allow anything and everything to be sent?
For example, on the Mars radio module…
The FCC and other governing bodies of radio internationally are very strict about what cannot be sent via radio. Some of the restrictions are: anything derogatory, bad language of any kind, discrimination based on religion, race, sexual, or even political orientation, and any sort of transmission where the party transmitting expects to gain monetary benefit thereby.
This is an issue that we will have to face, and we will have to agree to whatever sanctions or censorship the governments of the world apply to radio. Keep in mind that radio is not a targeted medium, but is available to be heard by everyone.
There are bound to be people on Earth who will tell us what is and is not fit to be heard by some other species. On the one hand, what right do they have to do so? But on the other hand, what right do we have to tell them they are wrong?
This is a rather sticky moral question that we will have to face Not necessarily answer, and surely not circumvent. But definitely face, if we are to be successful in this project.
The world today is divided by religious, political, and moral disagreements. Perhaps by trying to answer some of the moral questions surrounding the transmission of our dreams to the universe, we’ll help in some small way to begin to heal these divisions.
How will we teach the aliens to separate fact from fiction?
If, in the primer, we define truth and falsehood mathematically, then we can flag fact with the symbol for truth, and fiction with the symbol for falsehood.
How much data can be stored collectively on all the drives in the capsule?
What source of power should 1Data Capsule use?
To find the answers of these and many other questions, we will need the help of a mission control group, and a community that helps build the mission.
Who is behind the 1Data Capsule Idea?
Were Carl Sagan alive, we’re sure he would have conceived this idea.
We consider this as a tribute to Carl who was behind Voyager1 and Voyager2 that are now in the outer realms of our Solar System.
We’re leaving it up to the power of connected humans and technology, to come together and help make this mission come alive.
This is an idea which we have merely seeded for all of humanity to build together as the world’s biggest (and perhaps most significant) crowd sourced project.