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Send Your Art to the Moon

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FLICKR USER studioforcreativeinquiry

In 1977, a team headed by Carl Sagan sent two golden records representing the sounds of planet Earth out into space. Now, another team is sending art into the cosmos in an even more ambitious project—and you can help.

Moon Drawings is a project created as part of the Moon Arts Group, an initiative at Carnegie Mellon University. Through May 7, anyone can sketch a drawing on the group's website, and the drawings will then be etched into a 39mm sapphire disc as part of a sculpture called the Moon Arts Ark. Once it’s loaded into the sculpture, your drawing will be rocketed to the moon aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket sometime in 2016. The Moon Arts Ark has four titanium chambers that will hold the two sapphire discs containing the artwork, along with sculptures, microcapsules containing evidence of life on Earth, and images on metal foil. 

Courtesy of Moon Arts Group

Your drawing might even be traced into the moon’s soil by a rover called Andy, whose mission is to investigate a pit in the Lacus Mortis region. Circumstantial factors like power levels, operational condition and ground safety will determine whether Andy will be able to execute the creative portion of its mission. Should things go according to plan though, these tracings could be seen by orbiting telescopes and, thanks to the lack of weather on the moon, could last for thousands of years. A jury will select the artists for this celestial honor. 

The first 10,000 contributors will earn a place on the sculpture and as of this writing, 4659 spots were still left. Creating a drawing is free, and submissions are limited to one drawing per IP address. The organizers reserve the right to ignore anything offensive, so keep it classy if you want your creativity to earn a ticket to outer space. Or as the website instructs, “The drawing you make here may travel further, and endure longer, than anything else you do in your lifetime. Please take a moment to reflect on what you might say or show to some future viewer: thousands of miles, and thousands of years, away.”

In other words, bring your A-game. An extraterrestrial might see it someday. 

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Space
SpaceX's Landing Blooper Reel Shows That Even Rocket Scientists Make Mistakes
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SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket launches.
AFP/Stringer/Getty Images

On March 30, 2017, SpaceX did something no space program had done before: They relaunched an orbital class rocket from Earth that had successfully achieved lift-off just a year earlier. It wasn't the first time Elon Musk's company broke new ground: In December 2015, it nailed the landing on a reusable rocket—the first time that had been done—and five months later landed a rocket on a droneship in the middle of the ocean, which was also unprecedented. These feats marked significant moments in the history of space travel, but they were just a few of the steps in the long, messy journey to achieve them. In SpaceX's new blooper reel, spotted by Ars Technica, you can see just some of the many failures the company has had along the way.

The video demonstrates that failure is an important part of the scientific process. Of course when the science you're working in deals with launching and landing rockets, failure can be a lot more dramatic than it is in a lab. SpaceX has filmed their rockets blowing up in the air, disintegrating in the ocean, and smashing against landing pads, often because of something small like a radar glitch or lack of propellant.

While explosions—or "rapid unscheduled disassemblies," as the video calls them—are never ideal, some are preferable to others. The Falcon 9 explosion that shook buildings for miles last year, for instance, ended up destroying the $200 million Facebook satellite onboard. But even costly hiccups such as that one are important to future successes. As Musk once said, "If things are not failing, you are not innovating enough."

You can watch the fiery compilation below.

[h/t Ars Technica]

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Space
Here's Where You Can Watch a Livestream of Cassini's Final Moments
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NASA/Getty Images

It's been a road trip like no other. After seven years and 2.2 billion miles, the NASA orbiter Cassini finally arrived at the Saturn system on June 30, 2004. Ever since, it's been capturing and transmitting valuable data about the distant environment. From sending the Huygens probe to land on the moon Titan to witnessing hurricanes on both of the planet's poles, Cassini has informed more than 3000 scientific papers.

It's been as impressive a mission as any spacecraft has ever undertaken. And tomorrow, Cassini will perform one last feat: sacrificing itself to Saturn's intense atmosphere. Project scientists are deliberately plunging it into the planet in order to secure just a little more data—and to keep the spacecraft, which is running low on fuel, from one day colliding with a Saturnian moon that might harbor life.

Because it won't have time to store anything on its hard drive, Cassini will livestream its blaze of glory via NASA. The information will be composed mostly of measurements, since pictures would take too long to send. Instead, we'll get data about Saturn's magnetic field and the composition of its dust and gas.

"As we fly through the atmosphere, we are able to literally scoop up some molecules, and from those we can figure out the ground truth in Saturn’s atmosphere," Scott Edgington, a Cassini project scientist, told New Scientist. "Just like almost everything else in this mission, I expect to be completely surprised."

The action will kick off at 7 a.m. EDT on Friday, September 15. Scientists expect to say goodbye to Cassini less than an hour later. 

While you wait for Cassini's grand finale, you can check out some essential facts we've rounded up from Saturn experts. And keep your eyes peeled for a full recap of Cassini’s historic journey: Mental Floss will be in the control room at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, to offer a firsthand account of the craft's final moments in space. 

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