Sending stuff into space is cool, no argument. Selecting bits and pieces of human culture to share with the rest of the universe is also cool.
It would be nice if it were done in a way that was actually functional.
The Planetary Society has sent a DVD along with the spacecraft Phoenix, landing on the surface of Mars today. This disc contains text, artwork, audio, and video recordings, carefully curated, reflecting human perspectives of Mars.
“After landing, the spacecraft’s scientific instruments will come alive, and begin their search for water ice in the harsh Martian environment. Nestled among busy instruments, a small and very special DVD will wait patiently for its turn. This unique DVD is made of silica glass, and designed to last hundreds if not thousands of years into the future, when its true mission will commence. It carries nothing less than a message from our world to one centuries away, when humans will roam the Red Planet.”
What’s wrong with this picture?
I know I’m not the first to mention this, but even considering that the physical DVD may last for a very, very long time, the chances that anyone (human, posthuman, or whatnot) will be able to read the information are very slight.
In my ten minutes or so of research, I wasn’t able to find out any information about file formats or anything more technical than “it’s a special DVD.” Perhaps I’m reading the situation wrong.
At the very least, the disc itself will be an interesting artefact — a memorial to our very high hopes for posterity.