Friday, October 5, 2012
The Last Pictures
Last month, NASA sent the Echostar XVI satellite into orbit. Onboard was a ultra-archival golden disk. Technically it's a silicon disc nano-etched with data, encased in an aluminum shell that is coated with gold, itself etched with pictogram references to our planet. A rudimentary map of our local part of the cosmos, if you will. But what's most interesting is the data that was nano-etched onto that silicon disk. NASA commissioned a public arts organization to select 100 images of value to future scientists and explorers who will someday--maybe even millennia from now--find this disk and get a glimpse of our earth and the people who inhabited it. Which 100 pictures would you send aloft to represent our entire civilization? They are, thankfully, collected in the book The Last Pictures, which would be a tremendous group of photographs even if they weren't designated to be the literal last pictures of our planet, designed to long outlast the planet itself.