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Earth Scientists Send Rosetta Stones Into Space

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    NHNE News List Current Members: 758 Subscribe/unsubscribe/archive info at the bottom of this message. ... COSMIC MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE BBC News Monday, 13
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 15, 2003
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      BBC News
      Monday, 13 January, 2003


      A cosmic "message in a bottle" is to be left in space as a relic of the
      world's languages.

      A disc engraved with the first three chapters of Genesis in 1,000 native
      tongues will travel to a distant comet.

      The European Space Agency's (Esa) Rosetta mission, set for take-off this
      month, is making an eight-year voyage to intercept Comet Wirtanen.

      The unmanned spacecraft will orbit the ball of ice, matter and dust, and
      land a probe on its surface.

      The inscription, attached to the outside of the main spacecraft, is designed
      to act as a relic of the languages on Earth.

      Once the mission is over, the mother ship could end up circling for
      thousands of years until it breaks up or collides with a planet.

      Contemporary version

      The space mission is named after the famous Rosetta Stone - carved with
      inscriptions in Egyptian and Greek - found by a French soldier in Egypt in

      Wirtanen: One of a family of comets that orbit the Sun and Jupiter
      The discovery of the basalt stone slab, written at the beginning of the 2nd
      century BC, unlocked the secrets of ancient Egyptian writing.

      The spacecraft words, corresponding to 7,000 pages of a book, have been
      produced by the Rosetta project of the Long Now Foundation in San Francisco,

      The organisation, which is trying to save the world's languages, fears most
      will die out within the next century.

      The global collaboration of language specialists and native speakers is
      working to develop a contemporary version of the historic Rosetta Stone.

      "Fifty to 90% of the world's languages are predicted to disappear in the
      next century, many with little or no significant documentation," said a
      spokeswoman for the Long Now Foundation.

      It hopes the process of creating a new Rosetta Stone will help draw
      attention to "the tragedy of language extinction as well as speeding the
      work to preserve what we have left of this critical manifestation of the
      human intellect".

      Sending words, music or memorabilia into space is becoming a tradition.

      Rocket failure

      Messages in many languages and music by the likes of jazz great Louis
      Armstrong flew on the US space agency (Nasa) Voyager spacecraft in the

      The earlier Nasa Pioneer 10 and 11 probes carried metallic plates containing
      information about humans and Earth.

      Rosetta is due to take off from a base in Kourou, French Guiana, on an
      Ariane 5 rocket.

      The original launch date had to be postponed after a newer version of the
      rocket veered off course and had to be destroyed in December.


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