In fact, humans have been sending (sometimes far weirder) objects into space, with some hoping they might be picked up by other life forms.
Three Lego figurines were placed aboard a NASA spacecraft sent to orbit Jupiter – one of Jupiter, the king of the Roman gods after which the planet is named, one of his wife Juno and one of astronomer Galileo Galilei.
Luke Skywalker’s lightsaber
The prop from 1983’s Return of the Jedi was sent up into space in 2007 with Discovery shuttle-flight mission STS-120 to mark the 30th anniversary of the release of the first Star Wars film in 1977. The Force was with it, obviously.
Nearly 26,000 text messages from Australians were sent into space in 2009 in a project called Hello from Space.
Toy Story’s Buzz Lightyear
Everyone’s favourite astronaut action figure finally got to go to infinity and beyond in 2008 with Discovery mission STS-124. Buzz lived in space for more than 450 days before making his way back down to Earth.
Sound recordings of noises made on earth
Recordings of various noises have beamed up to space over the years for the information of any aliens or other lifeforms that might up out there. These have included a shepherd herding his sheep, rainfall, a heartbeat, a hyena’s cry, thunder and someone sawing wood.
Star Trek ashes
True to his acting role, Star Trek star James Doohan, who played Scotty on the TV series and many of the films that followed, always wanted his ashes to be shot up into space. Unfortunately, his ashes crashed back down to earth after a brief flight in suborbital space in 2007. In a second attempt a year later, the rocket carrying Doohan’s remains exploded over the Pacific Ocean.
In 2000 Pizza Hut paid €790,000 to become the first company in the world to deliver a pizza in space. The lucky recipient was Russian astronaut Yuri Usachov. The delivery obviously took longer than usual, so salami was used instead of pepperoni as a topping because of its long shelf life. Spending a long time in space weakens the taste buds, so extra salt and spices were also added to the pizza.
Just in case aliens ever want to look for an apartment on Earth, they’ll be glad to know someone has got them covered. In 2005 100,000 posts from Craigslist on everything from jobs to places to rent were sent into space.
A message from Paul McCartney
“Send my love to the aliens. All the best, Paul.”
This note from Beatles star Paul McCartney was sent into space attached to the band’s Across the Universe single via NASA’s Deep Space Network. They’re traveling across the universe at a speed of nearly 300,000km per second to reach the North Star, Polaris, which is 431 light years away from Earth.
Most of us had Sea Monkeys (otherwise than as brine shrimp) as kids. But few know these peculiar creatures became probably the world’s most unusual space travellers. In 1972 brine shrimp were sent into space on the Apollo 16 moon mission to test the impact of cosmic radiation on human astronauts. Being almost completely indestructible - they can survive being set on fire, deprived of oxygen, being boiled or chilled and extreme pressure differences – Sea Monkeys were the obvious choice for the treacherous experiment.