Knowing your macaroni painting is roaming the Solar System might take the edge off that massive student loan debt … 

NASA has a strange history of sending small tokens of our fragile and curious species dauntlessly into the cold void of space. In 1977, onboard the Voyager 1 probe NASA incorporated an actual album, known as the Golden Record with a vast assortments of audio samples from Earth. On the record are short recordings of different animal sounds (whales and song birds), audio clips of various atmospheric phenomenon (crashing tide, wind, thunder, etc.) spoken greetings in nearly 60 languages and even a full 2:03 minute recording of “Johnny B. Goode” by Chuck Berry. And now, a new initiative set forth by NASA wants to launch a your shitty, overly expressive art into space onboard their next mission vehicle.

Anyone can submit a sample of their work free of charge for consideration, and yes, that means you. You can finally do something with your art degree/ law degree that useless because you've discovered watercolors. Your art could even be the first art aliens ever make contact with with. It might steer them away! You could save us from certain invasion!

Schemes like the Golden Record and this latest tactic are all relatively easy and cheap ways to drum-up public interest. Public interest may not seem like a necessity to encourage or continue government funding; however in the post-recession era of austerity deals, public fascination with space is essential to keep NASA projects funded.  This latest art move by NASA is designed to do just that.

The artwork itself will not be launched as full-scale hard copies, of course. Because of practical space issues, NASA plans to load digital files of the pieces all on a single chip onboard the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft. The OSIRIS-Rex vehicle short for you guessed it, Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security, Regolith Explorer, is scheduled to launch towards the asteroid Bennu on September 8, 2016. The purpose of the mission is to rendezvous with Bennu in 2019 and take a sample of the asteroid. Once the craft has collected the necessary samples, the OSIRIS-REx will then launch back towards earth, this should be close to March 2021. In total, the mission and the selected individuals’ art will spend approximately seven years in space before reentering earth’s atmosphere and then parachuting into the Utah desert on Sept. 24, 2023.

So from a less-than romantic, skeptical standpoint, if one of us Denverites wins the contest, we’ll essentially be sending our impressionist sketch of our cat on a very long, drawn-out trip to Utah.

Many people will surely play the “unimpressed card” card here: “I don’t get it. So they launch it into space and it just comes back?” Essentially … yes.  However unlike simply hanging that incredible little moment of impressionism on the wall at the coffee shop, onboard the OSIRIS-Rex, the selected pieces will be in pretty exclusive company of “human art that has traversed even the slightest depths of our Solar System.” Pretty sure that’s a way bigger deal than your one-week Coffee Bean exhibit.

The whole prospective journey is remarkable and incredibly unique. Even the world’s greatest artists like Dali and Michelangelo and Jaden Smith (ha) never made an interplanetary rendezvous with a space rock … but you can.

IN YOUR FACE, Salvador!

Submit your work here using the hashtag #WeTheExplorers:

Twitter: @OSIRISREx
Instagram: @OSIRIS_REX