We’ve been sending people, animals and objects into space for more than half a century.
From the first animal to orbit Earth in November 1957, Laika the dog, to the ashes of Clyde Tombaugh, the man who discovered Pluto in 1930, now aboard New Horizons, space is teeming with offerings from Earth.
Launched in 1977, two Golden Records are nestled within Voyager 1 and 2 with the recordings of greetings in different languages – including Japan, Welsh, Persian and Spanish – images of life on Earth, and art and music from different genres. Chosen by a committee led by astronomer Carl Sagan, it’s hoped that the record will be “played only if there are advanced space-faring civilizations in interstellar space.”
Playing a cosmic prank on December 16, 1965, astronauts Walter Schirra and Thomas Stafford managed to sneak bells and a harmonica onto the Gemini 6 mission. Before re-entering Earth's atmosphere, they reported “an object” in polar orbit that was “a command module and eight smaller modules in front” – or Santa and his reindeer. And if that wasn’t enough to raise eyebrows, the pranksters noted that the pilot of the command module was “wearing a red suit.” Stifling their laughter, they began to play the Christmas song, Jingle Bells, the first time it had ever been played in space.
It’s strange to think that there is so many objects that we see in our everyday lives orbiting space. Here are a few of those strange and unusual object that have been sent into space from the Telegraph's list of 100 weird objects sent into space.
- "Lego mini-figurines of Galileo and the Roman deities Jupiter and Juno."
- "Luke Skywalker's lightsaber. A prop from Star Wars: Episode VI went up in 2007 with Discovery shuttle-flight mission STS-120."
- "A black and white diagram of human sex organs."
- Buzz Lightyear, a character from Pixar’s Toy Story franchise, finally went "to infinity and beyond" as a toy aboard the Discovery mission STS-124 in 2008.
"To infinity...and beyond!" Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story. N Azlin Sha/Shutterstock
- "Lots of dead space monkeys, many called Albert."
- "A corned beef sandwich from a deli in Cocoa Beach, Florida, taken by John Young in 1965. It disintegrated in the low gravity."
- "25,800 text messages from Australians, in a 2009 project called Hello From Earth," sent to the distant star Gliese 581.
- "A Doritos commercial was sent 42 light years away to a star system called 47 Ursae Majoris, which is part of the Big Dipper" because PUNS.
Mmm, tasty AND space-y. Yulia von Eisenstein/Shutterstock
- "A greeting in Zulu from Fred Dube, telling aliens: 'We greet you, great ones. We wish you longevity.'"
With 55 languages on those Golden Records, let’s hope those aliens can figure out at least one of the languages spoken on Earth.