NASA Lucy mission will carry words of Einstein, Carl Sagan and Beatles into space

Lucy in the darkness of space with John, Paul, George and Ringo.

Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser
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NASA's Lucy spacecraft will visit asteroids while carrying this plaque full of words of wisdom meant for future humans.


NASA's first mission to the Trojan asteroids associated with the planet Jupiter will be carrying words of wisdom meant to inspire humanity in the distant future. The Lucy spacecraft is scheduled to launch in October, and it was recently kitted out with a plaque that will act as a time capsule.

While Lucy was named for the fossil skeleton of a human ancestor, the moniker was also inspired by The Beatles' 1967 classic song Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. The spacecraft's plaque is inscribed with quotes from band members John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and George Harrison.

These are the words it will carry:

"And in the end the love you take is equal to the love you make." - Paul McCartney

"We all shine on . . . like the moon and the stars and the sun." - John Lennon

"Peace and love." - Ringo Starr

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This is what the Lucy spacecraft looked like in late 2020 when it was nearly fully assembled.

Lockheed Martin

"When you've seen beyond yourself then you may find peace of mind is waiting there." - George Harrison  

The Beatles are joined by other famous people. The plaque includes quotes from Albert Einstein, poet Joy Harjo, author Kazuo Ishiguro, Martin Luther King Jr., Brian May of Queen, Yoko Ono, Carl Sagan and others. 

Amanda Gorman, known for her poem for President Joe Biden's inauguration, also contributed a poem to the plaque. 

You can read all the quotes on the Lucy mission website and hear some of them read by their creators in a NASA video. Starr even makes an appearance, saying, "Lucy is going back in the sky with diamonds."

Lucy's adventures will take it to a series of fascinating asteroids that travel along in Jupiter's path. NASA said the asteroids "are thought to be remnants of the primordial material that formed the outer planets." The spacecraft will study these objects so we can learn more about the history of our solar system and the origins of planets.

NASA is thinking way ahead into the future for the plaque to when our descendants many millennia from now might find the Lucy spacecraft still moving through space.

"After Lucy finishes visiting a record number of asteroids for a single mission in 2033 (eight asteroids on six independent orbits around the sun) the Lucy spacecraft will continue to travel between the Trojan asteroids and the orbit of the Earth for at least hundreds of thousands, if not millions of years," the space agency said in a statement on Monday.

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The plaque is also inscribed with an image depicting our solar system as of the expected launch date of Oct. 16, 2021. Lucy's messages are a human-focused version of the Golden Record meant for aliens that is part of NASA's 1970s Voyager missions. The twin Voyagers are still on the move in interstellar space, but Lucy will be sticking around within our solar system.

Perhaps one day Lucy will be retrieved, brought back home and shared with the people of Earth, its messages of hope, unity, exploration, peace and love still as relevant to our future as it is to us now.

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