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Send your name to Pluto 326

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the great-ad-infinitum-grand-children dept.
hatredman writes "NASA is preparing to send the New Horizons probe to Pluto. It will be the first earth device to get intimate with the icy planet. And you can be there too - or, at least, your name. NASA is asking everyone to send them their names, which will be attached in the space device. The New Horizons probe will be launched in January 2006 to explore Pluto and the Kuiper belt, in the outskirts of the Solar System. It is expected that the probe will return to earth in approximately 50 thousand years."
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Send your name to Pluto

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  • by nokilli (759129) on Monday August 29, 2005 @05:27PM (#13430851)
    I entered Pluto Nium as my name, but when I check the site to make sure they've got me on the list it isn't there.

    For some reason they don't want us to know Pluto Nium is on-board.
    --
    You didn't know. [tinyurl.com]
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 29, 2005 @05:27PM (#13430852)
    Plutonian #1: Hey look, it's some kind of crashed probe.
    Plutonian #2: I'll get the can opener!
    *fooom*
    P1: It's full of names, here is one, "Ivana Tinkle."
    P2: I told you to go before we left the glarflog.
    • clones (Score:3, Funny)

      by vlad_petric (94134)
      Look at all these John Smiths - it must be a clone army!
    • by Mr2cents (323101) on Monday August 29, 2005 @06:15PM (#13431235)
      P1: I've entered all the names in our intergalactic search engine.
      P2: So, what did it find?
      P1: "Slashdot crowd"
    • by panaceaa (205396) on Monday August 29, 2005 @07:20PM (#13431634) Homepage Journal
      I doubt the average person will be able to read the list of names when the probe comes back. The Latin alphabet [wikipedia.org] has only existed for 2,700 years, and the probe is coming back in 50,000. In 50,000 years, it's almost inevitable that either humanity will be communicating without written words, we'll be using an entirely different alphabet, or humanity will be extinct.

      So what's the point of putting the names on the satellite? Is it the Gen-Xer's version of Voyager 1 [wikipedia.org]?
      • by Vadim Makarov (529622) <makarov@vad1.com> on Monday August 29, 2005 @09:01PM (#13432189) Homepage
        I doubt the average person will be able to read the list of names when the probe comes back. The Latin alphabet has only existed for 2,700 years, and the probe is coming back in 50,000. In 50,000 years, it's almost inevitable that either humanity will be communicating without written words, we'll be using an entirely different alphabet, or humanity will be extinct.

        Chances are, the probe will be retrieved and placed into some sort of museum much earlier. If all goes well, the humanity will have nuclear drives and all that stuff for interstellar flights in mere few hundred of years. However, if it happens so that the humanity in, say, the next 500 years won't be interested in retrieving its earlier probes as historical artefacts, won't have the means of doing so or won't exist, THEN the next 49500 years or whatever long time won't change the situation either. The point is, the fate of the probe will be likely decided in the next 500 years, and not when it returns to Earth without interruption.

  • Great! (Score:5, Funny)

    by jmartens (721229) <jimmartens@NosPAm.hotmail.com> on Monday August 29, 2005 @05:28PM (#13430862)
    I'll strart getting junk mail from Pluto!
  • Kinda depressing (Score:2, Insightful)

    by AviLazar (741826)
    That it is going to take us 50,000 years to send a probe to pluto and back? Wow. So much for the dreams of a child going into space :(
    • Re:Kinda depressing (Score:5, Informative)

      by slavemowgli (585321) on Monday August 29, 2005 @05:38PM (#13430955) Homepage
      It's going to take a lot less than that to get there, actually. The reason why the trip back will take so long is that it's not actually needed - it just so *happens* that the probe will probably return after 50000 years, but noone's actually really interested in it doing so (not today, anyway).

      Of course, the trip to Pluto is going to take a couple of years, but not that much - you're certainly going to see it in your lifetime. Well, assuming you don't die first (but that goes without saying). :)
    • And how long is a CD going to last being exposed to all that cosmic ray goodness? Certainly not 50,000 years.
    • Re:Kinda depressing (Score:2, Interesting)

      by KenAndCorey (581410)

      That it is going to take us 50,000 years to send a probe to pluto and back?

      If you read the timeline [jhuapl.edu], it'll only take about 10 years for the probe to get there. I know you said "there and back", but your comment is still a little misleading.

    • That it is going to take us 50,000 years to send a probe to pluto and back? Wow. So much for the dreams of a child going into space :(

      52005 AD: War Was Beginning...

      No, wait, so this probe comes back, right? And on this probe are all these names. And when the people then find them they'll think, "So these are the bastards who used up all the oil!" and they'll have our names and construct a big Wall of Shame covered with them, see? And they'll ban these evil names from being used and rename anyone who h

    • Can't be any worse than 7 years for a Kraft sandwich.
  • by phaetonic (621542) on Monday August 29, 2005 @05:31PM (#13430886)
    if NASA would put "I'm with Uranus" next to an arrow.
  • 50,000 years?? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tont0r (868535) on Monday August 29, 2005 @05:31PM (#13430887)
    seriously? what is the point? its a cute idea because 'HEY! LOOK! ITS THIS 50,000 YEAR OLD SATELLITE!!' but thats a long ass time for lots of things to go wrong. also a long ass time for people to forget 'hmm... NASA. what the hell is that??' sorry to sound trollish, but i would like to think that in 50,000 years, we could travel to pluto just fine. either that, or we will just be dead.
    • Re:50,000 years?? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by m50d (797211) on Monday August 29, 2005 @05:36PM (#13430929) Homepage Journal
      The data will be valuable so the probe might as well keep on collecting it. Sure, it will be relatively less important as time goes on - we'll know enough about most of the stuff out there to ignore it, but more data is always useful in science.

      And I suspect it's simply a fuel saving to have it end up heading inwards, so point it at the earth, it might be useful.

      • Re:50,000 years?? (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward
        The probe isn't returning to Earth. The orbit it's on just happens to return to the inner solar system in 50,000 years.
    • sorry to sound trollish, but i would like to think that in 50,000 years, we could travel to pluto just fine. either that, or we will just be dead.

      I certainly expect to be. Dead, that is. Even money says you will be to. Heck, I'd even give odds on that.
    • Re:50,000 years?? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by forum__32 (690326)
      The data that will be retrieved from the probe will more then likely be useless. If they are planning on this thing communicating back to NASA on regular intervals, then that is a different story. But for them to beleive that anyone on earth in 50,000 years will know how to get the data off is pretty naive. Its been less then 40 years and already 5" 1/4 discs are useless and hard to come by.
  • So... (Score:5, Funny)

    by chaboud (231590) on Monday August 29, 2005 @05:31PM (#13430894) Homepage Journal
    Everyone who puts their name on the list gets vaporized when the residents of Pluto come looking for whoever bombed their pseudo-planet?

    I'm game.
  • by Crimsane (815761) <clarke@nullfs.com> on Monday August 29, 2005 @05:32PM (#13430901) Homepage
    For some reason NASA hired a bunch of outside consultants from the United States Postal Service to help plan this mission.
  • by jlowery (47102) on Monday August 29, 2005 @05:33PM (#13430904)
    I'm sure Goofy can, but Pluto? He can't even talk.
  • by Kj0n (245572)
    I just wanted to add my name to the list, but then some timetraveller from 50.000 years in the future appeared and advised me not to do it.
  • by flinxmeister (601654) on Monday August 29, 2005 @05:37PM (#13430940) Homepage
    Greetings Pluto!

    I am barrister JOSEPH ZOOMANEENE from Earth. 2 Years ago a space probe crashed on Jupiter, killing my rich uncle....
  • that you wouldn't want to get intimate with an icy planet

    however, it's either that or get intimate with uranus
  • Binary CD? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Lewisham (239493) on Monday August 29, 2005 @05:37PM (#13430942)
    Um, am I the only one wondering what the point of sending a CD is? Apart from the "prestiege" for the people on said CD, if any intelligent life picks it up, they're not exactly going to be able to read it are they?

    I have trouble enough making sure my Windows using friends don't send me documents in PowerPoint format, let alone intelligent life understanding our alphabet, then working out ASCII code, then working out binary.

    It's a standards nightmare to make Tim Berners-Lee cry.
    • They better use a self extracting zip in case plutonians don't have win zip.
    • Um, am I the only one wondering what the point of sending a CD is? Apart from the "prestiege" for the people on said CD, if any intelligent life picks it up, they're not exactly going to be able to read it are they?

      The point of this is to get kids interested in science. Some will become scientists, most will become taxpaers.

      Think "big picture" here.

      • by Anonymous Coward
        The point of this is to get kids interested in science.
        it seems to be working, too. they got young Heywood [jhuapl.edu] interested enough to sign up.
    • Re:Binary CD? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Gaima (174551) on Monday August 29, 2005 @06:01PM (#13431139)
      I'm inclined to the hope that any alien species sufficiently advanced enough to be space faring and catch the probe (and CD), would also be advanced enough to some day translate and understand the information.
      What I'm not inclined to is the hope that the CD will last that long! Damn things barely last 2-3 years on Earth, let alone the radiation in space.
      • The list of names is useless. There's no point of reference that can be used to decode it, even if/when they managed to grasp the format of the CD.
        • by pjt48108 (321212)
          Alien 1: "We've decoded the script, and expect the results in a few seconds."

          Alien 2: "Excellent... I wonder what insight this will give us on the universe!?"

          Alien 1: "Awwww SHIT!"

          Alien 2: "What!? What's wrong?!"

          Alien 1: "We were too late. We only decoded it in time to catch the credits..."
      • Since the probe will never leave our solar system, if said sufficiently advanced alien species can travel millions of light years to catch the probe, they might as well travel a few more light minutes to visit earth directly.
    • Um, am I the only one wondering what the point of sending a CD is? Apart from the "prestiege" for the people on said CD, if any intelligent life picks it up, they're not exactly going to be able to read it are they?

      Good point - as recordable media, CDs are notorious for flaking and losing data when exposed to sunlight and temperature extremes.

      Now, the sunlight won't be a problem on Pluto, but how the heck are they going to pack a temperature-controlled space heater along for the ride - not to mention have i
      • I can see it now, it's been 20,000 years and someone actually intercepts it, decodes it, and due to all the errors introduced the message comes out "We the following hostile lifeforms wish to destroy your race: [list of names] All Your Base Are Belong to US.A."

        Well, to be honest, 20,000 (assume US meaning of comma) years from now, I doubt I'll be particularly concerned about anything.
    • It's for kids (Score:3, Insightful)

      by edremy (36408)
      I put my two sons on the list- they give you a little certificate you can print out with their name on it.

      My 4-year-old will think it's neat. (The 8-month old might not really understand.) It gets them to think about science, and costs a few grams added to the probe. Why not?

    • Re:Binary CD? (Score:3, Informative)

      by Vellmont (569020)

      Um, am I the only one wondering what the point of sending a CD is? Apart from the "prestiege" for the people on said CD, if any intelligent life picks it up, they're not exactly going to be able to read it are they?


      Who said anything about intelligent life finding it? Since the article summary says it may return near earth in 50,000 years it's not leaving the solar system. The only intelligent life that might possibly find it is us in 50,000 years. Though I doubt any information will still be readable aft
    • by baadger (764884) on Monday August 29, 2005 @06:16PM (#13431250)
      "let alone intelligent life understanding our alphabet, then working out ASCII code, then working out binary."

      Well duh...thats what readme.txt is for
    • That's OK. They're going to use XML.
  • to send their name up as "Cha"
  • By the time we reach Pluto, it probably wont be a planet any more. Why can't we send our probes to some big name sattelite with staying power, and not just some 42,000,000-minutes-of-fame flash in the pan.

    This is almost as bad as that 'timeshare on Phobos' idea a while back...
    • ...at least this one doesn't call Pluto the planet with the 9th-fastest-growing population, or have Erik Estrada offering said share "for very, very little money!"

  • Their server will be back shortly thereafter.
  • The probe will encounter an alien intelligence, prompting self-awareness. Its return trip will be hastened because it can no longer hear the haunting song of the then long extinct humpback whale. Why must we have such hubris?

    <ahem>

    KHAAAAAAAAN!

  • == Pluto Phishing. I wonder what I have signed up for ...
  • made it to Mars [nasa.gov]...this time, she's going straight for the Kuiper Belt!
  • Dear Pluto (Score:5, Funny)

    by ferrellcat (691126) on Monday August 29, 2005 @05:52PM (#13431067)
    From:Mbebmu Abacha, Lagos-Nigeria.

    Dear Pluto,

    Following the sudden death of my husband General Sani
    Abacha the late former head of state of Nigeria in
    june 1998, I have been thrown into a state of utter
    confusion, frustration and hopelessness by the present
    civilian administration, I have been subjected to
    physical and psychological torture by the security
    agents in the country. My son was just released from
    detention few months ago by the Nigerian Government
    for an offence he did not commit. As a widow that is
    so traumatized, I have lost confidence with anybody
    within the country.

    You must have heard over the media reports and the
    internet on the recovery of various huge sums of money
    deposited by my husband in different security firms
    abroad, some companies willingly give up their secrets
    and disclosed our money confidently lodged there or
    many outright blackmail. In fact the total sum
    discovered by the Government so far is in the tune of
    $700. Million dollars. And they are not relenting to
    make me poor for life. I got your contacts through my
    personal research, and out of desperation decided to
    reach you through this medium.I will give you more
    information as to this regard as soon as you reply.
    I repose great confidence in you hence my approach to
    you due to security network placed on my day to day
    affairs I cannot afford to visit the embassy so that
    is why I decided to contact you and I hope you will
    not betray my confidence in you. I have deposited the
    sum of 30.000.000 million dollars with a security firm
    abroad whose name is witheld for now until we open
    communication.I shall be grateful if you could receive
    this fund into your account for safe keeping. This
    arrangement is known to you and my son Ahmed alone, so
    my son will deal directly with you as security is up
    my whole being.I am seriously considering to settle
    down abroad in a friendly atmosphere like yours as
    soon as this fund get into your account so that I can
    start all over again if only you wish, but if it is
    impossible,just help me in diverting this fund into
    your account which will accrue you 30% of this fund.
    Please honesty is the watch word in this transaction.I
    will require your telephone and fax numbers so that we
    can commence communication immediately and I will give
    you a more detailed picture of things. In case you
    dont accept please do not let me out to the security
    as I am giving you this information in total trust and
    confidence .I will greatly appreciate if you accept my
    proposal in good faith. Please expedite action by
    sending your reply to my son email address below.

    Sincerely Yours,

    MBUMBE ABACHA.
  • Perhaps "Free Waterfall Jr" might be a good choice, what with the penguin preserve on pluto and all.

    Let's Conservate!
  • From the post...

    "...It is expected that the probe will return to earth in approximately 50 thousand years..."

    It'll be VGER all over again! Alert Paramount!!

  • Not only is Pluto not a planet - in fact, it's smaller and has fewer planetary characteristics than a couple of other bodies orbiting the sun which aren't planets - it's also less likely to be visited than, say, Haley's Comet.

    Now, if you wanted to send the latest Nintendo DS version of Nintendogs to Pluto - that might be interesting .... and just about as useful.

    Me, I'm sticking with my Chinese land grant on the Moon - more likely to be useful when I become a space farmer, before the rise of the Emperor Kar
  • So, is this the same mission as the long longed for Kuiper Express?
  • It seems that this has been around for a while. I just did a search for "John Smith" on the search by name page [jhuapl.edu]. There I found that certificate number 436 was registered on 18 February 2005.

    Why did it take so long to reach slashdot, or is it a dupe?

    Note: I'm not new here, but these things should be on slashdot a bit quicker, although it might have been an internal NASA thing for a while

  • by huphtur (259961)
    Robbie Woodbridge is SO 1337 [jhuapl.edu]!
  • 50,000 earth years?

    Welcome to GNN, Google News Network. The date is January 16 52005. Top Headlines:

    The Ministry of Truth wants to remind all citizens that ignorance is strength.

    Also, an unknown projectile, on a trajectory from Pluto, has destroyed outgoing intergalactic crawler Discovery MXVI. In a press meeting today the intergalactic defense council of Earth declared a state of defensive war against the federation of Pluto. The Ministry of Peace said this about the incident, "We have always been at war w
  • by n54 (807502)
    If I am alive in June of 2015 I can look up at the stars and ponder the overall insignificance of a small number of bytes directly connected to me being close to Pluto rather than the overall insignificance of a (relatively) small number of molecules sitting on this planet and thinking about the bytes flying past Pluto.

    And if humanity implodes I guess at least my name survives until the probe crashes somewhere or is destroyed by vacuum ablation :)

    And maybe, just maybe, in 50.000 years I'll be a small part o
  • According to this [jhuapl.edu] , the database is quite open to abuse. I hope they clean it up, unless the NASA experiment involves spamming other planets and civilizations.
  • Dateline 8/29/52005: All disease is finally wiped out on the planet - mankind has finally achieved a once unimaginable dream, and the entire population is completely devoid of immunity.

    The next day, an unsterilized probe enters the atmosphere...

  • Haha... That's a good one. Earth still around in 50,000 years.
  • This probe is likely to fall into the hands of alien's looking for a new home planet. They will come to Earth and eradicate all human life, except those of us who's names have been inscribed on the "metal can of divine guidance" (as they will call it) and they will behold us as gods and shower us with phlegm incrusted snot-balls (a great complement where they come from).

    You want your name on that list!
  • Well, I've entered my name and my kids, but guess what? Our certificates look ridiculous as they have escaping slashes on the apostrophes in our surnames, so instead of O'Connor, it's O///'Connor (yes, not one, not two, but three slashes!)

    Man... you'd think this wouldn't be a problem anymore!
  • I'm sending my name to Mickey and Goofy! Pluto's a dog, he can't even read!
  • I'm just glad good ol' Jack Mehoffer, Matt Sturbator, and Bob Ondaschaft are going to be immortalized.
  • The point is... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Calroth (310516) on Monday August 29, 2005 @10:28PM (#13432590)
    I browsed at +1 and couldn't really find anybody posting why NASA is doing it. It's obvious, really - so obvious that there's not really any reason for me to post it. But here we go...

    The point of NASA doing this is not to send your name to aliens, and it's not to send your name to archaeologists 50,000 years in the future. They're doing it to make you feel like a part of you is on that probe, that a part of you is being launched into the depths of the solar system, exploring, etc. It's a discovery thing. It's also a marketing thing, and for what you get (a whole bunch of kids saying, cool), it's pretty cheap.

    Since it's unlikely that it'll be picked up by aliens or archaeologists, it doesn't really matter what form the names take. Of course, the weight of the probe is finely tuned, so something light is preferable. Kids understand what a CD is, so that's a good choice.

    NASA did a similar thing for the Deep Impact probe - collected names and included them on the impactor. Definitely no chance of that being picked up by aliens, but there's something cool about having your name on a big chunk of metal that will smash into a comet on the 4th of July (more marketing there).
  • by schnitzi (243781) on Monday August 29, 2005 @10:48PM (#13432688) Homepage
    Using the search feature, I found:

    Heywood Jablome 103982 2005-08-09 21:04:33
    Hugh G. Rection 241557 2005-08-29 17:34:56
    Mike Hunt 77369 2005-06-29 23:41:56
    Homer Sexual 38139 2005-04-24 06:31:23

    But not one Phil McCracken!
  • 50'000 years (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pgilman (96092) <never.ga@in> on Monday August 29, 2005 @11:29PM (#13432852) Journal

    "It is expected that the probe will return to earth in approximately 50 thousand years."

    unlikely. the probe will be picked up by one of our own spacecraft long before then. it will sit in a museum for a while, and in 50'000 years it will be long returned to dust and forgotten by whatever we've evolved/mutated into by then.

  • by vinn (4370) on Tuesday August 30, 2005 @02:36AM (#13433599) Homepage Journal
    In 1997 I was senior at the University of Michigan and we completed an entire RFP that JPL (I think, or perhaps NASA in general) had out on this mission.

    Being the only EE in the class, it fell to me to design the complete communications system for it.

    I wish I had an electronic document of the whole thing, it makes for fascinating reading. I just pulled it out of my closet to compare notes after reading about the mission. Our RFP weighs in at 175+ pages.

    Our proposal is very close on several key design elements. We proposed a 452kg spacecraft - damn close to the final weight. I see that the actual mission calls for a 2.1m dish, which is close the 2m dish I proposed using a total of 82W DC (including transponders, SSPA, etc). We designed the mission using a Delta rocket to lower the cost and achieve a decent altitude.

    We figured a total of 200MB of compressed science data would need to be transmitted back to complete the objectives at the time. They don't seem to have changed much, so that means a minimum data rate of 514bps is required to transmit the data to one DSN over 6 months. Using two 34 dishes of the DSN gets an average rate of about 900bps.

    In other words, I'm thrilled our original design has held up. We actually proposed a NSTAR ion engine rather than LTG's, but it's great NASA went with the LTG. You get a shitload more power, and that's awesome. Especially considering they missed the launch window for an ion engine.

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