Uwingu, the company that has previously given people the opportunity to name extrasolar planets and Martian craters, is now starting a new project. The company announced yesterday its “Beam Me To Mars” campaign, where people can pay to have a message transmitted from Earth to Mars on November 28, the 50th anniversary of the launch of Mariner 4, NASA’s first Mars mission.
Uwingu offers several tiers of participation, from $5 for sending a name to $100 for a name, message, and image. Universal Space Networks will transmit the messages from its ground stations on November 28 in the direction of Mars. Uwingu says that half of the fees will go to the cost of the transmission, with the other half going towards the Uwingu Fund, which the company established to support science and education activities.
No one, of course, will be able to receive the messages on Mars, but Uwingu is making the archive of messages available on its website. As of Wednesday morning, about 24 hours after Uwingu started the project, there were nearly 40 messages on display, including from some famous personalities: George Takei (Star Trek’s Sulu) and his husband, actors Seth Green and Clare Grant, and commercial spaceflight participant Richard Garriott.
Beam Me To Mars is Uwingu’s latest foray into projects that raise money from the public. Uwingu started by soliciting names of exoplanets, which raised the hackles of the International Astronomical Union (IAU). Earlier this year, it started accepting names of Martian craters not previously named by the IAU, an effort that included a partnership with Mars One. That, too, has been opposed by the IAU. Transmitting a message to Mars would appear to be out of their jurisdiction, though.