'The Last Pictures:' 10 Things to Know About Earth's Time Capsule on a Satellite
By Arlene Paredes | November 28, 2012 1:41 PM EST
The 20th and early 21st century Earth periods have been curated and hurtled into space for viewing - perhaps by future Earthlings or visitors from other planets.
Earth has launched a historical photo display attached to a communications satellite for future explorers. Dubbed "The Last Pictures," the project is meant to last for billions of years, akin to a time capsule outside the third planet from the sun.
10 Things to Know about "The Last Pictures"
10. High-flying communications satellites are believed to be the likely cultural and material ruins of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. So far it is the only thing that can outlast any other man-made artifacts, Space.com reported.
9. "The Last Pictures" is a project of American artist Trevor Paglen. In his web site paglen.com, Paglen is described as "sound/video/installation artist, writer, and cultural geographer working out of the Department of Geography at the University of California at Berkeley."
8. The project's ultimate output is an archival disc containing 100 photographs of the human world. The archive includes photos of Earth from space, Cherry Blossoms; Glacier National Park, Montana in 1940 and 2006; and the Suez Canal in Egypt, among others.
7. Paglen consulted with scientists, artists, philosophers, mathematicians and geologists to choose the 100 photographs for inclusion to the project.
6. The complete 100 photos are featured in "The Last Pictures" book, co-published by Creative Time Books and University of California Press.
5. The archival disc is affixed to the exterior of EchoStar XVI satellite, which was launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Nov. 20. "The Last Pictures has gone to space where it will begin a much longer voyage to the depths of time," Paglen said in an e-mail to space.com after the launching of EchoStar XVI.
4. EchoStar XVI will be maneuvered into orbit 22,300 miles (35,800 kilometers) above the Earth.
3. Satellite EchoStar XVI will be fully leased to DISH Network. It is meant to deliver direct-to-home broadcast services to U.S. DISH customers. The EchoStar Corporation, which built the satellite, donated both the services of its engineers and placement space on its satellite for The Last Pictures.
2. The photos are nano-etched on a silicon disc housed by two interlocking gold-plated aluminum jackets. Future explorers can refer to the artifact's cover, which includes a star chart, pulsar timings and other information about Earth in the present era.
1. A documentary of the making of The Last Pictures is available here. You may also play the video below.
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