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Published:December 5th, 2008 09:04 EST
Pioneer 10

Pioneer 10: Update What Will Be Next?

By Clinton Van Inman

PIONEER 10: Update


For more than thirty years Pioneer 10 has continued its voyage through deep space.  It carries a human message engraved upon a gold plate.  This famous plaque was created by Carl Sagan and features two humans standing beside one another with one showing a familiar gesture of a greeting with a raised hand.  This plaque will hopefully be found by some intelligent species somewhere as they will be able to decode it and will be able to discover something about us humans.  They will be able to learn much about us, from our physical features, to our exact location in the solar system and the Milky Way using pulsars as a reference, and even how to communication with us.

Pioneer 10


This plaque can survive in space for millions of years and may be the last surviving article of humanity if we go extinct.  It is our message in a bottle, yet it is as outdated as a 78 record.  It left Earth without one vital piece of information: a sample of our DNA and our human genome blueprint, which would certainly be included if the spacecraft would have been sent today.  Having our DNA signatures and our genetic blueprint in a space capsule would reveal a greater in depth knowledge about us humans besides the possibility of securing our species if we would become extinct.  Let us say perhaps a million years from now if we are extinct a super intelligent life form recovers our DNA and blueprint.  They could resurrect Homo sapiens from the ashes of our DNA.  This is not farfetched as it sounds as we are trying to resurrect extinct dinosaurs and mammoths from DNA, which may happen one day.  Having our DNA and a volume of our human genome project secured in space is essential, sort of like flood insurance. 


Some say that revealing our DNA signatures to aliens leaves us open to attack as aliens would be able to find our weaknesses and introduce alien diseases into our planet in order to eliminate us so that they could take over.  This argument is ludicrous because if an alien species has the knowledge of how to perform this feat then it seems logical that they would have the technology to be able to outgun us as well.  These same arguments were used against the launching of Pioneer 10. 


To date, NASA has not proposed any ambitious future missions with human DNA on board, or anything similar in project of Pioneer 10.  Even Sagan himself was a little disconcerted at the advancement of NASA space projects. Having astronauts reduced to flying little capsules around the Earth and waving flags was not his idea of ambitious space projects.