About the foundation:
What is the Beyond the Earth foundation?
The Beyond the Earth foundation is a non-profit organisation whose activities focus upon 'interpretation preservation', long-term communication strategies and conserving the memory of heritage resources/ sites over intervals of cosmic time. The foundation's activities contend with the responsible usage of our surrounding spatial environment as a preservative medium for preparatory resources in order to support future archaeological observations performed by our distant descendants. While numerous initiatives are already committed to preserving libraries and knowledge repositories off-world, this foundation focuses upon 'interpretation preservation' i.e. providing an intuitive, non-partial introductory guide that should theoretically support bottom-up comprehension for the discoverer(s); regardless of their state of cultural evolution, social conventions, linguistic structure(s), morphology, sensory perceptions or genetic heredity. The purpose of these intersubjective 'Companion Guides for Earth' artefacts is to coordinate the archaeology of the future by providing a locally-accessible, basic interpretation of our civilisation's intelligible resources to assist a discoverer to formulate deductions about the contents before introducing more complex elements [and thereafter, denoting the location of other elaborate terrestrial/ celestial resources for further investigation and experimentation]. A list of this foundation's full objectives can be found on our 'About' webpage or within the foundation's Bylaws.
Why is Beyond the Earth focused upon 'interpretation preservation'?
The long-term communication of 'essential' information is of 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. While the question remains of 'what our descendants need to know?' persists [a subject which is extensively explored by the international eternal memory community], there has been little practical progression regarding how we could preserve the interpretation of this bequeathed information for populaces that may not share any of our languages, social conventions, convictions, cognition, ontogenic or phylogenetic traits. This foundation, through its practical experimentation and educational activities, intends to address this pertinent issue by availing of SETI communication strategies, auxiliary 'languages', graphic icons depicting 'universal constants' and other methodologies to develop multi-tiered, cross-referencing 'primer' devices that can corroborate existing perceptions of our shared reality before introducing more elaborate concepts and conserved records for further interpretation exercises. It is intended that the resulting primer encyclopaedia will be made freely available for the benefit of external archival entities, public time capsules, NGO's, marker strategies etc. to adopt for their intended applications; providing a robust legacy that should support communication over intervals of deep time.
Who is the intended recipient(s) for these guides?
These experimental [visual] libraries are constructed to hopefully provide a commensurable, introductory guide for recipients that may not share convergences within; our species' in-situ environmental interactions, cognition, sensory modalities and other phylogenic parameters alongside cultural properties such as endocentric affiliation(s), collective sociocultural history, distributed cognitive materials other inherited conventions. Presently we are looking into several examples from each of the below categories;
Present Generations (100 < years)
The initial recipients of these guides are the numerous [present] generations of ethnic populations and indigenous communities who can immediately avail of all contents used to develop these archival elements as well as the numerous educational/ participation opportunities to communally craft these artefacts. The Beyond the Earth foundation is committed to encouraging this international learning and social cohesion within this common, multifaceted challenge while also promoting democratic access to spatial resources and inspiring further critical thinking within sustainable planning of human proliferation over extended intervals of time.
Immediate descendants (100 - 1,000 years):
Our immediate descendants may not experience sufficient divergences within cultural/ biological evolution to warrant the extensive considerations employed within these archival elements. In this case, the artefact will predominately contain redundancy information for these recipients along with intricate [antiquated] records of our biosphere/ generational legacy that may prove beneficial for academia or for posterity within museum displays etc.
Distant descendants (1,000 - 10,000,000 years):
The archival elements and employed pidgins should provide sufficient commensurable resources that can aid in archaeological observations performed by these recipients. It is intended that these receivers will experience moderate to extensive shifts in cultural/ biological evolution and therefore require use of this introductory guide to comprehend our civilisation's perception of reality and access other intelligible artifices (these deductions can be thereafter applied to the underground archives/ vaults across Earth's continents).
Observations within deep time (≥ 10,000,000):
Beyond +10 million year intervals, these introductory guides should provide basic accessibility to our civilisations' articulation but the viability of subterranean vaults will be questionable due to active geological processes. In this case, celestial archives will remain as the only intact media to test any intelligible deductions the recipients may glean from these 'Companion Guides for Earth' artefacts.
Communication with Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence:
The foundational primer within these artefacts utilise the artificial language LINCOS in order to formulate an initial, intuitive, mathematical guide for bottom-up descriptors however, this process is limited if we postulate that a recipient may not share convergences with human cognition or possess logical reasoning akin to our own mental capabilities. To address this potentiality, these introduced concepts will be further corroborated by graphical elements (based upon observable 'universal constants' - see the Voyager Record covers for examples) that are capable of adequately demonstrating simple constants which can be subsequently used to explain more elaborate ideologies and narratives. As the archives will remain within Earth orbit (with some editions also residing in other terrestrial archives), this library intends to initially utilise our planet and resident orbit as a common reference point to support preliminary corroboration of observable concepts before gradually introducing more complex ideologies. Both sets of strategies have been extensively explored within SETI literature and practically implemented within Messaging to Extra Terrestrial Intelligence activities.
The foundation is also presently attempting to identify other primer strategies that are capable of communicating with additional, hypothetical receivers such as artificial intelligences, augmented biological entities and other evolved telluric species based upon present-day exemplars.
Why place these archival elements within space?
Placing these libraries within space presents a number of protracted conservation benefits including;
Ensuring that the eventual recipients will need to demonstrate a specific level of technological sophistication and ingenuity to physically access the resident region of geosynchronous orbit.
Pioneering ventures within space (even to the aforementioned geosynchronous orbit) will require large-scale cooperation between future inter/national populations therefore ensuring that such missions benefit a larger demography of researchers/ citizens.
The artefact will largely remain viable and accessible without interference from active geological processes or bio-geo-chemical cycles.
The items of cultural heritage will remain largely unmolested from man-made acts of intentional destruction or inadvertent consequences resulting from anthropogenic climate change etc.
Protection from potential cataclysmic events that affect the global biosphere or human species.
However, storage of these libraries in orbit also represents a number of disadvantages (which this foundation is presently investigating) including;
Preserving the terrestrial memory of extant artefacts residing within these orbital regions.
Developing adequate marker strategies in order to support memory and recovery efforts.
The general payload costs associated with inserting artefacts into this orbital region.
Preventing instrument interference for future researchers (e.g. telescope observations by astronomers).
National/ private operator liability for storing passivated satellites within graveyard orbits.
Contributing to the space debris epidemic or mitigating the possibility of near-future collisions.
Potential direct collisions with micrometeorites and other high-velocity impact sources.
Viability of the archival medium against sources of cosmic radiation and frequent extreme temperature fluctuations.
Temporal contamination from viable, extremophile microbes residing within the satellite/ archival elements (future biota may not possess an immunity to older strains of associated diseases etc.).
The long-term (billion year interval) stability of these orbits during Solar System evolution.
Why are these objects being placed within Geosynchronous Earth Orbit?
Geosynchronous Earth Orbit (GEO) is a stable region surrounding our planet that is capable of securely preserving objects for periods of cosmic time due to the relative balance between exerted radiation pressure, solar wind emanating from our Sun and also the gravitational influence of our home world. However, this region is not as stable as the much further Lagrange Points between Earth and other distant celestial bodies in the Solar System (these points are strictly regulated for continual scientific applications). As GEO is protected by Inter-Agency Space Debris Coordination Committee (IADC) guidelines for contemporary telecommunication/ Earth observation infrastructure, upon passivation of the host satellite, this artefact will be maneuvered out into a further graveyard orbit just beyond GEO for secure storage/ disposal. This region is still a very stable environment for the long-term preservation of these libraries and it is also capable of supporting further editions of this library over the ensuing decades (dozens of satellites are passivated into this disposal orbit per annum); therefore potentially facilitating a multi-generational portrait of our present generations. It is anticipated that slight perturbations within this region along with changes in solar pressure will eventually lead to a more elongated, elliptical orbit for most of these GEO objects; ultimately dislodging these artificial satellites into longer, heliocentric orbits after one billion years - a point in time in which Earth's environment will become inhospitable for the continued proliferation of [present] life due to increased solar activity.
Is it dangerous to place these libraries into space?
We are complying with IADC guidelines for the safe disposal of decommissioned satellites in order to place these libraries within long-duration orbits. Presently, our communication infrastructure passivate dozens of satellite every year within a disposal orbit in order to preserve the GEO region from the accumulation of space debris or a potential Kessler Syndrome event. The libraries will remain attached to these decommissioned satellites throughout their predicted lifespan; reducing any possibility of interfering with future space missions/ telecommunication orbits while also safeguarding these cultural contents for periods of cosmic time. Further to this, the foundation is also supporting efforts to reduce space debris by actively promoting public awareness and education within orbital management as part of larger planetary stewardship campaigns.
Will these libraries be observable from Earth's surface?
The foundation intends to implement a small retro-reflector layer across the surface of each archival element [and bracket] in order to serve as a marker strategy for attention/ recovery of the artefact. This layer will be capable of reflecting electromagnetic radiation from a wide incident angle alongside other spectroscopic marker strategies presently under consideration. We are currently working with an international community of astronomers in order to mitigate interference with terrestrial scientific observations and limit discovery opportunity to individuals who possess sufficiently powerful [amateur] telescope equipment.
Does this artefact violate planetary protection protocols?
The foundation is ensuring that these companion guides are constructed within the necessary sterile laboratory conditions before conducting additional sterilisation procedures in line with Planetary Protection Protocols (specifically Category III - IV procedures). As these archives will reside in Earth orbit for millennia, it is necessary to factor in any 'temporal contamination' that may occur over expanses of geological time and responsible plan accordingly.
What will these libraries look like?
The library will consist of sixteen micro-etched nickel discs of information that will be enclosed within a hollow aluminium sphere (a 30mm globe which has a graphic rendering of Earth's typography accurately etched across its' surface). An interactive, graphical representation of this library can be viewed on our 'Companion Guide to Earth' webpage with further details available within our 'Schematic' guide. This capsule will be subsequently sealed within the protective layers of the bracket.
How will this information be preserved?
The methodology for micro-etching onto a series of nickel discs (U.S. patents; 8717650, 8264757, 7961367, 7830573) has been extensively pioneered by the company 'Stamper Technology Inc./ NanoRosetta ® Technology'. This process uses a focused laser to write the information onto a photosensitive material that is coating a glass disc. This recorded material is developed like photography film onto form the microscopic information before the plate is electroformed; resulting in a thin layer of solid nickel with slightly elevated (micro-sized) information across the surface - much like ink on pages of a book. The resolution of initial introductory markings will be visible by the unaided [present-day human] eye before decreasing in scale; the majority of these contents can be thereafter easily viewed under 100x magnification thus increasing the surface area for information inscription. Each disc will then be coated within a thin layer of Sapphire glass (Al2O3) to provide additional tensile strength and long-term chemical stability alongside protection from corrosive liquids, high/ low temperature fluctuations, pressure and sources of radiation. Impact/ collision testing is also presently being undertaken.
What information is not being included within this library?
A number of items will not be included within this library such as content which demonstrates an affinity towards political agendas, objects which infer a nationalistic affiliation (e.g. flags, country emblems etc.), items of information which actively promote religious convictions or elements which possess a biased, historical perspective (popular history accounts). Furthermore, as this library is intended to be a non-partial, common legacy artefact which intends to communicate a holistic, interpretable guide to potential recipients, we will not be including mementos which reference specific individuals (i.e. popular 'names in space' initiatives) or corporate logos etc. The idea is that this archive will provide the interpretability factor while other initiatives provide the majority of our civilisations historical context.
Why will religious material not be included within the library?
We will be excluding religious contents for a number of practical and inimical reasons;
This library intends to provide an impartial guide for a preliminary understanding of Earth and its' resident human population. As such, we cannot choose to represent one religious faith, ideology or conviction at the expense of other spiritual praxis that can equally describe a large portion of our planet's belief systems.
Micro-etching a copy of holy texts (such as the Bible, Quran, Tripitaka or Torah - either in part or full) will require the majority of space available within each library; presenting an obvious capacity issue for representing all of these texts within a limited carrier. As such, it is intended that these archives will denote the location of long-duration religious vaults (such as Granite Mountain, Vatican Archives etc.) in order to responsibly place the communication of Earth's spirituality onto these more extensive sites.
Religious material and belief rely upon a complex relationship between human perceptions of a shared reality, creative articulation, literary capabilities and the resulting convictions that arise from this infrastructure; elaborate artifices which are, for the moment, outside the purview of a single introductory guide.
Will my drawing be included within the library?
We are hoping to include 3,000 drawings on the bracket for this library but, depending upon the available surface after planning, this number may be revised. If more than 3,000 are received, we will be organising a lottery between all of the artists with the hopes of including at least one drawing from each participating country or ethnic group. This is the only way to ensure fair participation and equal representation from all of the participating parties.
Where is the Beyond the Earth foundation based?
The foundation does not possess or presently require a physical office space. Rather, the foundation is comprised of a communal network of international researchers from a multitude of disciplines that collaboratively share knowledge and debate resources over digital platforms and networks with public contributions.
Is the Beyond the Earth foundation a registered charitable organisation?
This foundation is registered as a charitable entity within Scotland (SC048652) and its' governing bylaws, as defined by the trustee council, are accessible on the 'Appendix' webpage.
What does the foundation's logo stand for?
The logo is designed to represent the common heritage of humankind; a principle of international law which holds that defined territorial areas and elements of humanities common heritage (cultural and natural resources) should be held in trust for future generations and be protected from exploitation by individual nations or corporations. The central component of the mandala consist of an 'Azimuthal-Equidistant' projection which is centred upon Antarctica (a continent with no indigenous human population which is subject to the Antarctic Treaty ), surrounded by Earth's oceans (another element subject to the common heritage of humankind under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea ) followed by all international landmass. The outer spiral of the mandala (a random sample of the telluric [absorption] spectrum) also applies to this principle as it references the 'commons' as defined within the UN Outer Space Treaty (1967) and also the bio-geo-chemo-cultural signature of the Earth system; a physical property of the Earth system which we are investigating in order to determine how it reflects the common heritage of humankind across deep space and time. The logo is, in effect, a collective portrait of Earth, its planetary cycles and all of its diverse biota.
Why preserve celestial heritage sites?
Off-world heritage resources such as our civilisation's first satellites (e.g. Vanguard 1), the Apollo Lunar landing sites and Martian lander positions are pioneering examples of humankind's profound, philosophical curiosity within the origins of life and our position within the universe as well as documented evidence of our initial practical 'leaps' outward into the expanse of our cosmic environment. Recognition of these celestial sites is only now being discussed within the field of 'space archaeology' with a growing number of international entities already facilitating preliminary discussions for drafting guidelines on preservation procedures.
The Beyond the Earth foundation is committed to contributing to the preservation of these celestial sites by partnering with similar foundations, space lawyers and other like-minded entities to draft sufficient legislation and best-practice guidelines for the continuous conservation of these common legacy sites for all humankind (past, present and future). While it is hoped that a forthcoming convention on the preservation of celestial cultural property may be adopted by the United Nations or a similar international governing body, the record of these extra-terrestrial sites will also be documented within the forthcoming archival elements in order to conserve the memory of these heritage sites/ artefacts through intervals of deep time.
How will these artefacts be found by our future descendants?
The Beyond the Earth foundation is pioneering innovative research and experimental developments within marker strategies in order to communicate the memory of these artefacts [and other sites] over periods of deep time. In this, we are invested within the LOCKSS (Lots Of COPIES Keep Stuff Safe) method of information preservation whereby research and primer guides developed over the course of this foundation's activities will be freely available for adoption by other celestial/ terrestrial archival organisations and the general public for alternative applications i.e. time capsules, underground vaults, satellite 'postcards' etc. While this introductory guide will be preserved within GEO for the benefit of [local] deep time interpretability and access for Earth resources, we are also officially partnering with numerous other organisations such as Memory of Mankind, Lunar Mission One and the Arch Mission Foundation to successfully disseminate this material farther beyond Earth orbit. In addition to these celestial outlets, the foundation is also collaborating with numerous underground cultural vaults and archives in order to retain a copy of this introductory guide [in a variety of media] within these secure terrestrial locations. Concurrent to these endeavours, the foundation is also investigating the artificial introduction of chemical/ electromagnetic signatures on these orbital archival elements in order to attract long duration attention to the host satellite for the eventual recovery of these artefacts.
How can I participate?
Please visit the purpose-built project website to explore, interact, investigate and contribute your own voice to this temporal story. You can submit cultural content for inclusion via our 'Participate' webpage (the online form will query you for the required fields associated with each submission channel). Image files may be uploaded via the affiliated Dropbox service.
Is participation free?
This project is developed to provide an equal, democratic opportunity for all of the ethnic groups and indigenous communities regardless of financial means, physical location, personal beliefs or other protected characteristics (see our Equality and Diversity Policy for further details). As such, participation is free for anyone interested within representing their cultural heritage alongside other individuals from each ethnic/ indigenous population.
How many times can I submit?
Please consider others before attempting to submit multiple applications for review.
What contents will be included?
You can view the general thematic layout of the library on the 'Companion Guide to Earth' webpage of the website or, alternatively, within the 'Schematics' guide.
How can I get involved?
To join our inspiring teams of interdisciplinary researchers, advisors, project organisers and volunteers in developing and delivering foundation activities, please contact us via our 'Join' panel.
How do I know if my information is included?
We are designing this archive to be non-partial and easy to access. As a result, an interdisciplinary group of researchers within relevant fields will be carefully deliberating and selecting from all submitted contents. We will periodically release confirmed content guides (prior to sending the archive into space) that can be reviewed by all participating parties to ascertain whether your content has been included.
Is my culture/ nation included?
The intention is to include cultural resources from all distinctive ethnic/ indigenous communities. Please see the periodically-updated demographic globe feature on the 'Participate' webpage to determine whether your native cultural location is included. If in doubt about whether your heritage is represented, please contact us.
Who selects the contents?
A large portion of this library has been allocated towards establishing accessibility/ interpretability for an encyclopaedia of concepts which will be curated by an interdisciplinary selection committees in order to maintain objectivity and non-partiality within the introductory guides. However, cultural resources will be separately curated by committees of experts that range from ethnomusicologists, anthropologists, sociologists, linguists and other professions who actively study these fields (with the overview criterion of democratically representing extensive diversity within Earth's cultural heritage).
Are indigenous communities included within the library?
We are approaching numerous indigenous cultural centres and affiliated organisations as well as resident anthropologists who have conducted fieldwork within isolated communities in order to also gather their perspectives for inclusion within this library alongside contents from hegemonic populations. If you operate one of these indigenous centres and would like to be a contact for your cultural community, please visit our 'Contact' webpage.
How are other generations included within this library?
The Beyond the Earth foundation is developing a template artefact that can be subsequently updated or adopted by future generations in order to more accurately depict their changing dispositions and social values. This inexpensive template and affiliated organisational procedures will allow an updated iteration of these 'Companion Guides for Earth' to be easily fabricated and inserted into the desired GEO region while also allowing future generations to easily update the library of information for their requirements.
How/ does this archive speak for Earth?
This archive intends to provide the starting footnote for speaking on behalf of Earth in order to open this discussion up for holistic, worldwide input. This guide intends to provide impartial accessibility for understanding core elements that commonly define humanity before denoting the location of additional terrestrial/ celestial repositories that will demonstrate our diverse ethnicity, cultural resources, beliefs etc.
Who speaks for Earth?
The intention of this library is to provide a representative, objective 'voice' from all nations and cultural backgrounds in order to demonstrate the diversity of human perspectives available on our planet. You speak on behalf of your cultural heritage as much as another inhabitant within a different part of the world.
Is anyone available for interview?
We are always happy to facilitate interview requests. Please contact us directly via; info 'at' beyondtheearth.org if you wish to schedule any discussions with foundation trustees about the foundation's activities.
Where can I read more information?
More information about this project can be found on our 'About' webpage, introductory video or within the libraries' 'Schematics' guide. In addition to this material, you can also access research generated by this initiative via our Researchgate project profile.
Can I use this material for my own projects?
Information generated over the course of this project is available for reuse under a Creative Commons Attribution License. However, datasets and graphic information submitted by participating/ collaborating partners can only be licensed by these institutes/ individuals. Please establish the appropriate copyright owner for the material you wish to appropriate before using it.
Can I get information for press/ publication?
You can send your query directly to us via; info 'at' beyondtheearth.org and a representative will be in touch to speak with you. The average waiting period for information queries is ~ 1 day.
Who is funding this project?
We are applying for numerous international funding bodies in order to appropriately fund this project through collective, public avenues. We will however not be approaching any private organisations or commercial institutes for funding in exchange for accreditation within the physically etched library.
Can I donate or sponsor this archive?
We do accept small donations that collectively inform the design and fabrication of the libraries [as well to acquire permissions for including information within these capsules]. Please contact us if you are interested in donating or use the established donation channel.
Can I purchase a copy of this archive?
We do not sell copies of these archives as the composite information ownership is spread across numerous different institutes and individual authors. If you are interested in acquiring contents for personal/ non-for-profit/ commercial purposes, you must secure the relevant permissions from the appropriate author(s). We can provide guidance on contact avenues but we do not broker any deals between parties. If in doubt over the relevant owners of some materials, please contact us.