Building the World

WATER/SPACE: New Year’s Eve Invitation


“New Year’s Eve” celebration by videographer Cemp, 2019. Creative commons 3.0. Included with appreciation.

New Year’s Eve is often celebrated by popping a cork, releasing bubbles of hope for health and happiness. This year, cork your name into a bottle, sending your greetings and wishes into the future. Who knows who might pop the cork?

Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons, is a watery world that may support life. Image: European Space Agency (ESA) Hubble, 2016. Included with appreciation.

NASA‘s Europa Clipper spacecraft, traveling 1.8 billion miles (2.6 billion kilometers), will visit Europa, a moon of Jupiter. Evidence reveals a water world there that may support life. Arriving on the shore, in a very high-tech bottle, could be your name and a message.

“A bottle containing a sheet of music that has washed up on shore.” Image: snapwire, 2017. Dedicated by the photographer to the public domain. Included with appreciation.

This message will be from one water world to another. Ada Limón, U.S. Poet Laureate, whose “In Praise of Mystery: A Poem for Europa” will grace the gift, has written this poem:

In Praise of Mystery: A Poem for Europa by Ada Limón

Arching under the night sky inky

with black expansiveness, we point

to the planets we know, we

pin quick wishes on stars. From earth,

we read the sky as if it is an unerring book

of the universe, expert and evident.

Still, there are mysteries below our sky:

the whale song, the songbird singing

its call in the bough of a wind-shaken tree.

We are creatures of constant awe,

curious at beauty, at leaf and blossom,

at grief and pleasure, sun and shadow.

And it is not darkness that unites us,

not the cold distance of space, but

the offering of water, each drop of rain,

each rivulet, each pulse, each vein,

O second moon, we, too, are made

of water, of vast and beckoning seas.

We, too, are made of wonders, of great

and ordinary loves, of small invisible worlds,

of a need to call out through the dark.

You can listen to the poem, read by Ada Limón, here.

Ada Limón, U.S. Poet Laureate. Photograph of Ada Limón by Christopher Michel, 2019. Included with appreciation.

Would you like to join Ada Limón by adding your name to NASA’s message in the bottle? Names submitted by 31 December 2023 will be etched on a microchip sent to Europa, when NASA launches the mission. To sign your name and send your greetings to the future, click here.

Sign your name on a message sent to Europa. Image: “Fountain pen” by photographer Petar Milošević, 2017. Creative Commons/wikimedia 4.0 license. Included with appreciation to Petar Milošević.

NASA. “Message in a Bottle.” 2023.

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G. Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 U

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