Scientists are preparing to send a 'message in a bottle' to the North Star in autumn 2016, comprising responses from the public to one very simple question; how will our present environmental interactions shape the future?
The astronomers are inviting the public to go online and submit a response here. The project - known as 'A Simple Response to an Elemental Message' - will convert responses into radio waves, and send them into outer space towards the North Star.
The project aims to create a collection of global opinions on the environment which can travel through space for a huge period of time. The final messages will be collected on August 1 2016, and then it is just a case of sending the encoded responses on their 434 year mission to Polaris – the North Star.
"Our present ecological decisions will have a massive impact on the future for all Earth's inhabitants," said Paul Quast, co-ordinator of A Simple Response to an Elemental Message. "This project will create a culturally-inspired message in a bottle capturing global perspectives that will travel into space for aeons."
The project was planned by researchers at the United Kingdom Astronomy Technology Centre, the Royal Observatory of Edinburgh, the Edinburgh College of Art and the University of Edinburgh. They thought the best destination for the radio waves would be the North Star, because any response to its iconic bright light would almost be poetic.
Once the messages have been sent away into outer space, it will take 434 years to reach its destination, outliving the people that created it. It will ultimately carry on as a symbol of the brief 10 years in the history of Earth that shaped modern civilisation.