Each day, M-BARC comes closer to bringing our space time capsule to fruition. The Bus team is thrilled to announce that we’ve created a prototype of the section of our spacecraft that will house the payload—what the spacecraft will carry. The payload will be the main part of the time capsule and contain the items to be retrieved in 100 years.

The payload prototype is 3x10x10 cm, which is the actual size. To put in perspective how small this is, it is roughly the size of a sandwich. While it may not seem like much space, the payload will contain the most impactful elements of the time capsule and is critical to its success.

Currently, there are three major components that make up the time capsule, and the payload prototype takes these into account: There will be space for the nano-printed data chips, which are housing our encrypted interview data. There will be room for a physical object from campus, an element of the time capsule that is not yet finalized. There will also be a space for our DNA experiment, where we will put organic material into space in order to see how cosmic radiation affects it after 100 years.

In addition to these components, the prototype also includes a solar panel, which will power an LED beacon that emits a radiation signature. Because we are sending this time capsule to space for the University’s bicentennial celebration, the payload will be fashioned with block ‘M’s along its sides that double as structural support.

The prototype is still quite preliminary, and the internal organization will likely change depending upon the design of the radiation experiment. The data chips are small enough to have little impact on the internal organization. At this time, we have not analyzed how the payload will respond to the space environment.