An illustration of a rocketship shooting past earth.

Image: Shutterstock

Just because you might never get to go to space doesn’t mean your art can’t. NASA has invited the public to send art to Asteroid Bennu on its new spacecraft, the OSIRIS-Rex, or the Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer. The spacecraft will leave a chip encoded with all of the submitted works of art on the asteroid after it collects its sample and returns to earth. People are already responding to the project via the #WeTheExplorers hashtag.

OSIRIS-Rex will launch in September of this year. Its primary purpose is to collect about 2 ounces of material from the asteroid to be studied. In 2013, Bennu came within 22,000 miles of earth. Scientists believe that it could actually collide with our planet in 2182, so the sample they take from the asteroid could help us learn enough about it to prevent the collision.

So why send art to Bennu? Because like science, art has to be inspired. “The development of the spacecraft and instruments has been a hugely creative process, where ultimately the canvas is the machined metal and composites…It is fitting that this endeavor can inspire the public to express their creativity to be carried by OSIRIS-Rex into space,” said Jason Dworkin, OSIRIS-Rex project scientist.

Anyone is welcome to send their art to NASA, though minors need the permission of a parent or guardian. By sending artwork, NASA receives the artist’s consent to have their work downloaded and sent off into the wild black yonder. Submissions may take the form of drawings, photography, music, video, poem, or other art forms that can be downloaded.

Videos can be uploaded directly onto Twitter or Instagram, or by including a link to a YouTube or Vimeo channel with the above-mentioned hashtag. Entries must be submitted either by Sunday, March 20th, 2016, at 11:59 PM PDT, or until the capacity of the drive going up into space is reached. The submissions will need to remain accessible online until at least April 30th.