Published online by Cambridge University Press: 15 August 2018
The eclectic range of artefacts and ‘messages’ we dispatch into the vast expanse of space may become one of the most enduring remnants of our present civilization, but how does his protracted legacy adequately document the plurality of societal values and common, cultural heritage on our heterogeneous world? For decades now, this rendition of the egalitarian principle has been explored by the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence community in order to draft theoretical responses to ‘who speaks for Earth?’ for hypothetical extra-terrestrial communication strategies. However, besides the moral, ethical and democratic advancements made by this particular enterprise, there remains little practical exemplars of implementing this garnered knowledge into other experimental elements that could function as mutual emissaries of Earth; physical artefacts that could provide accessible details about our present world for future archaeological observations by our space-faring progeny, potential visiting extrasolar denizens or even for posterity. While some initiatives have been founded to investigate this enduring dilemma of humanity over the last half-century, there are very few comparative studies in regards to how these objects, time capsules and transmission events collectively disseminate content about the aggregate of our species and the Earth system it inhabits. This catalogue, assembled for extended study as part of the Beyond the Earth foundation, is intended as an initial, dialogic step towards evaluating such a ‘profile of humanity’. This investigation will endeavour to collate all cultural resources that can presently be garnered from spacecraft (non-mission orientated, cultural material that conveys an impression of Earth) and non-terrestrial transmissions (electromagnetic signals that are intentionally aimed off-world to embody humanities’ evolving, philosophical identity) in the expanse beyond our planetary borders in order to cross-analyse how we presently illustrate the diversity of our planet before, subsequently, deducing how we could appropriately depict our collective human civilization [and biosphere] within deep space and cosmic time.