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Santa Barbara-Based Voices of Humanity Develops Chips to Send Personal Data, Messages Into Space

UCSB professor Philip Lubin and San Marcos High School graduate Travis Brashears collaborate on the mission, with a launch planned in 2017

UCSB Physics Professor Philip Lubin, left, and UC Berkeley engineering physics major Travis Brashears, right, lead a team kicking off the Voices of Humanity crowdfunding campaign in early July.
UCSB Physics Professor Philip Lubin, left, and UC Berkeley engineering physics major Travis Brashears, right, lead a team kicking off the Voices of Humanity crowdfunding campaign in early July. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

For the first time, individuals will have the opportunity to launch their thoughts, photographs, DNA, tweets and other personal messages or data into space via microchip. 

A new project called Voices of Humanity aims to send personalized data into the solar system and beyond.

The Humanity Chip is a creation of the Santa Barbara-based team of UCSB physics professor Philip Lubin and UC Berkeley engineering physics major Travis Brashears.

The first goal is to send personal messages via a custom spacecraft that will be launched in 2017 into low-Earth orbit.

In the future, they aspire to offer the project to all spacecraft being launched and send the data-loaded chips on their wafer scale spacecraft to further missions, ultimately to the nearest star Alpha Centauri.

“Our long-term goal is to enable the first interstellar missions and to eventually place the Voices of Humanity chips on those missions as emissaries of the Earth. It is a modern-day concept of a ‘time capsule,’” said Brashears, 19, who is a San Marcos High School alumnus.

Lubin said the mass of each chip will be less than 0.04 ounces, therefore, adding one to an interplanetary probe or satellite won't be a hassle.

The physics duo launched a Kickstarter campaign earlier this month at Workzones in Santa Barbara to raise money to launch personalized data into space. The $30,000 crowdfunding stretch goal was placed on the website that helps entrepreneurs with ideas get started if a certain funding is reached.

Costs for launching a participant’s data range from $1 for a tweet, $10 for a photo, $79 for DNA and up to $1,000 for a personal storage device.

From left, UC Berkeley engineering physics major Travis Brashears, UCSB Physics Professor Philip Lubin, Jonathan Madajian, Spring Arbor University student Patrick Knowles and UCSB geography graduate student Blake Regalia plan to send personal messages into space with their Voices of Humanity campaign. Click to view larger
From left, UC Berkeley engineering physics major Travis Brashears, UCSB Physics Professor Philip Lubin, Jonathan Madajian, Spring Arbor University student Patrick Knowles and UCSB geography graduate student Blake Regalia plan to send personal messages into space with their Voices of Humanity campaign. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

The money will be used to launch the chip full of personalized images and data into space.

In addition, another project goal is to engage all walks of life in space exploration. On Kickstarter, the team added a section called “Giving a Voice to all Children” where individuals can donate pledges to those who cannot afford it.

“We will use the funds to work with schools in Third World countries to try to get notes from students in rural settings in particular. It allows voices from children all over the world to be heard, including those who may not be able to afford to pledge,” Lubin said. “We are taking funds from the program and applying it toward educational outreach to reach all children, especially in Third World countries.”

The Humanity Chip is just one milestone of their vision that began in April 2015.

If the campaign exceeds its $100,000 goal, the researchers will purchase and design a laser encoder, which beams up the data. 

The two will develop a ground-based custom laser and robotic telescope that allows personal data to be beamed to a space target. The “Beam Me Up” model will take messages to any star, exoplanet, solar system object, black hole or galaxy of choice.

“We have reached a point where technology has advanced,” Lubin said. “It’s interesting to see how technology now makes this realistic.”

Two telescopes are planned to be installed — the first in Santa Barbara and, in the future, a second in Brazil or South Africa.

This isn’t the first breakthrough project on which the two have collaborated. 

They are working on a laser-propelled, first interstellar mission through the DE-STAR project at UCSB and the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts-funded project Phase I DEEP-IN and Phase II DEIS programs.

“I hope this will encourage people to support the future of space travel,” said Blake Regalia, a UCSB geography graduate and computer scientist for the team.

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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