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NASA Agrees To Turn New Horizons Probe Into A Message-In-A-Bottle For Aliens

26/06/2014 11:50 BST | Updated 26/06/2014 11:59 BST

NASA wants to send your messages to aliens.

Back in the 1970s the Voyager 1 probe was sent out into space containing a record of images and words selected by Carl Sagan and others. That craft has now almost certainly left our solar system, and the message in a bottle (or rather a golden record in a space craft) is heading merrily on its way through interstellar space.

And now NASA wants to try it again - even though the craft on which it will place its messages is already 300 million miles from Earth.

new horizons space

That craft is New Horizons (above), a deep space probe heading to Pluto to study its moons and the dwarf planet itself.

Though it launched in 2006, New Horizons will not reach Pluto until the summer of 2015, at which point it will start to collect data on everything it sees.

But after that - once the craft continues on its path away from the Sun - there's not much more it can do.

Or is there? Space artist and journalist Jon Lomberg, who was also involved in putting together the Voyager 1 record, has argued that since the craft will still be contactable from Earth, Nasa should fill its memory banks with messages and data from our planet. Just as with Voyager 1, the idea is that in the (unlikely) situation in which an alien species finds the probe, it might be nice to say hello.

Last year he launched a petition to make it happen, and launched an independent group ('New Horizons Message Initiative') to collect the message.

And now Nasa has agreed! Last month Nasa said that it would do exactly as the group asked, and is now working on ways for anyone to submit their messages in the form of audio, Vines, video or just words.

An announcement is due on 25 August on how this process will work.

"For almost 40 years, people have been inspired by the Voyager record, a portrait of the Earth in 1977," Lomberg told Space.com.

"The world is very different now, and this new message will reflect the hopes and dreams of the second decade in the 21st century. It will inspire young people's interest in science and ignite the imagination of all ages. We hope it will be an example of global creativity and cooperation, something that the entire planet can share as a cooperative venture, made possible by the new science of crowdsourcing."