NASA to beam Beatles song into deep space

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Saturday, February 2, 2008

An antenna at the Madrid Deep Space Communication Complex.
Image: Hector Blanco de Frutos.

On February 4, NASA will digitally transmit the Beatles song Across the Universe in the direction of the star Polaris, commonly known as the North Star.

This will mark the first time music has been sent into deep space. The song will be transmitted from the DSS-63 radio antenna at the Madrid Deep Space Communication Complex in Robledo de Chavela, Spain at 12:00 am UTC.

The broadcast celebrates the 40th anniversary of the song's recording, the 45th anniversary of NASA's Deep Space Network, and the 50th anniversary of NASA itself.

Polaris is approximately 431 light years away from Earth, meaning it will take 431 years for the song to reach the star traveling at the speed of light.

NASA's press release includes statements from Beatle Paul McCartney, who tells NASA to "send [his] love to the aliens", and John Lennon's wife Yoko Ono, who sees the event as "the beginning of the new age in which we will communicate with billions of planets across the universe."

The idea was hatched by Martin Lewis, a Los Angeles-based humorist and Beatles historian.

"It never had the highest profile and is a bit of a forgotten classic," Lewis said of the song. "But it has universal appeal. It transcends ages, borders, language and other barriers."

NASA invites astronomy fans and Beatles fans alike to play the song simultaneously as it is being transmitted into space.


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