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An intelligible archive for geosynchronous orbit, and cognitive semiotics research experiment; developed for practical outreach, discussion, and engagement with the long-term conservation of ‘essential’ planetary stewardship information.

Archive the ‘Essentials’.  Conserve Records for Posterity.  Bridge the Long Communication Distance. 



The 'Companion Guide for Earth' is a highly-collaborative introductory, micro-etched archive which is developed as an experimental testing ground to support practical experimentation within deep-time archaeology and communication strategies. Please browse the 'Companion Guide' details below for more information.


Mass:             ~0.1821 kg

Diameter:      ~32 mm

Weight:          0.4015 lb

Materials:       Hemispheres  -  Space-Grade Aluminium

                        Protective Shell  -  Alkali-Aluminosilicate

                        Disc  -  Nickel Composite

Northern Hemisphere

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Southern Hemisphere

Companion 1



As a practical, multidisciplinary exercise in preserving the comprehension of and specific focus for our unique archival contents, the foundation is developing a 'Companion Guide to Earth' for storage in geosynchronous orbit. This ‘Companion Guide’ artefact will simply serve as an experimental platform for progressively exploring the baseline communication of ‘essential’ resources for deep-time archaeology and planetary stewardship applications, all under the operating assumption of a unidirectional ‘interrupted’ transfer of information; examining the theoretical and semiotic limits of simply conveying a signified meaning, across expansive ‘broken’ periods of time, using isolated a priori artefacts of material culture.

Generally, artefacts such as time capsules and similar archival devices become redundant antiques of their creator’s lifetime, traditions and other customs once removed from associated cultural, social, linguistic and semiotic influences, leading to commensurability challenges as these communities gradually diverge over ever-growing expanses of time. Outside these engaging pursuits in cultural endowment, the long-term communication of 'essential' information is of paramount moral and ethical interest to a number of global stewardship entities including bioethics observatories, climate/ biosphere regulators, planetary protection authorities, and hazardous waste custodians, as well as international communities who wish to preserve artifices of cultural heritage for the benefit of their descendants; records which should be responsibly committed to multi-generational memory for the long-term sustainability of our common home. Humanity is now authoring these indelible legacies of Earth through the various pioneering technological artefacts that enable protracted record-retention (such as the archives of our partnering organisations Memory of Mankind, the Long Now Foundation and Arch Mission Foundation) and other personalised ‘gestures to eternity’. However, it remains to be seen whether dense archival datasets may adequately convey any comprehensible information across deep time without factoring in the technical research conducted on the intricate sign-relationships governing how information is symbolically encoded and represented between communicating parties (a challenge that is inherently semiotical, and one that warrants multidisciplinary engagement across cultural boundaries). We should not assume any dense corpus of information assembled for present-day consumption would be comprehensible, relatable, or even relevant, to any distant human civilisations. Rather, we should focus on building the foundation of archival databases from the 'ground-up' for any specific application, and then tailor our communication strategies to meet these definitive criteria.


To support our interrelated research on the development of introductory guides or ‘primers’, and also aid in investigating the varying strata underpinning these multidisciplinary challenges, the foundation is collaboratively compiling the intersubjective 'Companion Guide to Earth' artefact as a practical testing ground for exploring non-continuity communication strategies, while also addressing some of the long-held [and very deeply-seated] conventional assumptions about our species' communication faculties in these culturally-isolated devices. Our atypical approach with this ‘Companion Guide’ however, involves actively integrating the physical fabric of the ‘Companion Guide’ capsule within the interpretative process itself, for the benefit of introducing tangible elements of information that can be further elaborated upon within the primer guide. This strategy intends to ensure that the ‘meaning’ contained within the capsule itself is supported by the design considerations before extrapolation from these lessons can take place — for example, demonstrating our propensity towards symbolic representations by interrelating the capsules tectonic ‘Earth’ shell, with the graphic projection inside the archive as ‘content shown through form’. Stratagem such as this are intended as simple mechanisms to aid in bridging the interpretive void through practical deductions from a ‘common object’, correlating these observed properties with the ‘short-hand’ semiotic considerations inscribed inside the archive to explain further properties, thus ensuring (to paraphrase Marshall McLuhan’s aphorism) ‘the Medium remains integral to interpreting the Message’. Please see the specifications to review additional design considerations (Note: the older layout of the archive presented in this document was originally planned around constructing a prototypical ‘goodwill’ message template).

At present, this experimental capsule will be fabricated and bolted to an unspecified communication satellite which will reside within a stable geostationary orbit for the duration of its operational lifespan — a delivery system akin to ‘The Last Pictures’ project. As such, after the satellites active phase has ended (and in accordance with intergovernmental guidance for decongesting vital zones of Earth orbit), the defunct satellite will then be manoeuvred into a permanent geosynchronous ‘graveyard’ orbit (approximately 35,785 ± 200 km from Earth’s Equator). It is acknowledged that this small, inconspicuous ‘Companion Guide to Earth’ artefact will likely never be recovered from this very stable graveyard orbit. Despite this discrepancy, our simple, creative exercise aims to promote long-term thinking and stewardship planning, while establishing a suitable test platform to foster further research within the semiotics dilemma of conveying information across generations in a legible manner — either through infrequent encounters with space/time-capsule artefacts, or enduring memory-retention schemes like national archival programmes. Such captivating journeys into the unknowns of deep space and cosmic time are highly engaging, and tap into an emotive desire for long-term thinking, which may only prove beneficial for adapting our minds towards deep time planning and stewardship prospects.

It is anticipated that these design considerations and related semiotic work will also greatly assist in developing alternative research strategies for use in other time capsule projects, while establishing a basis for interrogating some of these long-held assumptions committed to present iterations of these archival efforts. In addition, this work will hopefully advance guidance and record-retention policies that may prove useful for other inter/national and NGO repositories — institutes who may, one day, choose to host a ‘Companion Guide to Earth’ as an inheritable asset within their respective collections.



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