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12 billion miles from Earth: Fun Kids Mission Transmission sends a message to the stars

Yesterday, I sent a message to space.

By the time you read this, the transmission will be 12 billion miles from Earth, 7 times farther away than Neptune. Photons from the broadcast will continue to move at light speed through the universe until the universe itself dies, trillions of trillions of years from now.

The broadcast was sent into space from an array of transmitters all over the world and the UK’s children’s radio station Fun Kids simulcast the transmission, setting a world-first Guinness World Record in the process: the first radio programme beamed to deep space.

We called the project Mission Transmission. The result was almost thirty minutes of audio featuring children’s hopes, aspirations and questions to extraterrestrial life. Thousands of children from all around the world entered and hundreds made it into our programme. Tens of thousands of people visited the Fun Kids website during the six weeks submissions were open and hundreds from press and PR to astronomers and astrophysicists were involved in bringing this thing to life.

Yesterday morning, Mission Transmission was on BBC Radio Sussex, BBC CWR, BBC Radio Gloucestershire, BBC Radio 2, and BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. In the evening I was on BBC Points West. Tonight, you’ll see some of the event on The One Show. Tomorrow, an interview I did with the Radio Academy has a rundown of exactly what happened too.

At 7pm last night, astronaut Tim Peake, KIDZ BOP and a bunch of children who’re featured in our programme all hit a big red button at the Royal Observatory Greenwich. At that moment, transmitters across the world streamed our radio programme to the stars and started it on a journey that will never end.

It was a literal love letter to the universe and has been a personal labour of love for so much longer. In fact, this entire project has given me an incredible sense of wellbeing, reminding me that the things that unite us far outnumber things that divide us.

So, the next time you gaze up at the stars and picture the wonders of the universe or life on some far-flung and as-of-yet undiscovered planet, remember that among all those twinking stars exists a tiny token from home, and that wrapped up in that signal are some of the things that make us, us: our sounds, our people, our science, and music.

You’ll next hear from me on March 31st 2022.

22 February 2022

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