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FAQ

















 



Why have you chosen the name KEO?

Why have you chosen to send "this souvenir of Humanity" in space rather than burying it under the earth?

Why 50,000 years?

What are the possible risks of collision with meteorites and debris?

Can KEO's safe and sound return to Earth in 50,000 years be guaranteed?

Even if the satellite survives in space for 50,000 years, how would we know that our messages are intact?

How would our future descendants be able to read our messages?

Do we need to pay anything to participate in this project?

When can we start sending in our messages?

Can we write everything we want ?

Can we also send drawings, photos, sounds...?

What about those people who are illiterate?

What about those people who do not have access to the Internet?

In which language will the messages be preserved?

Can we consult the content of the messages?

How is this project financed?

What energy resources will KEO utilize?

Can we communicate with KEO during its flight?

Why does KEO have wings?

Keo being a passive satellite, how can it move its wings?

How will the information forming the "Contemporary Library of Alexandria" be chosen?

When will KEO be launched?

Until when can I send a message?

To what extend can KEO be useful from today?
Jean-Marc Philippe, the creator of KEO replies to you:


Why have you chosen the name KEO?
 

It was necessary that the name of the project reflected its spirit of sharing and exchange between all people. This name had to be acceptable by all people irrespective of their age or culture. Since no such example of universality existed in our past or our local mythologies, one partner came up with the idea to research the sounds (phonemes) common to the most widely spoken languages today and to choose the ones that are used most frequently: [k], [e], and [o]... and hence was born KEO, a name that is pronounceable by all cultures.


Why have you chosen to send "this souvenir of Humanity" into space rather than to bury it under the earth?
 

Space appeals to the human imagination and KEO is addressed to the imagination of each one. Moreover, if we would have decided to bury this Fresco of Messages, we would have had to select a place, a country... whereas space belongs to everybody... or nobody.
KEO will certainly encounter dangers in space but will be immune to any catastrophe on Earth. In fact if there was any calamity to occur, KEO would indeed play the role of a guardian of this "souvenir of Humanity."


Why 50,000 years?
 

50,000 years is the mirror date to a milestone in the evolution of our species: the first traces of Art reveal the human capacity for abstract thought and symbolic expression.
50,000 years is distance in time so compelling that it forces us to shed our worries and daily routine and puts us each on an equal footing, inviting us to bask in our thoughts, intuitions and deepest convictions...
However 50,000 years only represent 1% of the evolution of the human species that have appeared on Earth some 5 million years ago.
It is also the concept of time and distance that will give our treasures a genuine archeological value because it is very probable that definitive traces of the activities of the Man of today will be in turn recovered by the Man of tomorrow.


What are the possible risks of collision with meteorites and debris?
 

The main risk for KEO is the possibility of a collision with micrometeorites or space debris of human origin. This is the reason why the core of KEO is protected by several layers of shields made from aluminum, titanium and tungsten, that are separated by a vacuum.
Nevertheless, if the pollution of human origin in space continues to grow at its present level over the next fifty years (+5% per annum), KEO would have practically no chance of survival.
There is no doubt, however, that restrictive measures will be taken to prevent this, since space debris is not only endangering the operation of costly military, scientific and commercial satellites, but more importantly, threatening the lives of astronauts in space shuttles and stations. Thus, the big spatial groups like the NASA or the ESA are already developing programmes to "clean" this debris. This is the reason why we consider this risk as non significant.


Can KEO's safe and sound return to Earth in 50,000 years be guaranteed?
 

A technical feasibility study carried out during the years 1996-1997 concluded that KEO's safe and sound return to Earth in 50,000 years was possible. This means that KEO has reasonable chances of attaining its objective as that of an interplanetary missions being launched today. For this, KEO takes advantage of our present day capabilities in precision design, technological mastery of capsule re-entry and uses materials that have demonstrated their durability in nature (eg. Titanium, Tungsten).
(For more information, you could refer to the site, www.keo.org and download 3 pages in English that talk about the technical feasibility of the project at the 48th International Astronautical Congress, Turin, October 97.)


Even if the satellite survives in space for 50,000 years, how would we know that our messages are intact?
 

In July 1998, the National Grand Accelerator of Heavy Ions (GANIL) conducted an experiment whereby glass disks on which our messages will be engraved were exposed to intensive radiation. The experiment showed that the disks and their data remained intact even after they were exposed to an equivalent amount of cosmic radiation that they will undergo in 50,000 years.


How would our future descendants be able to read our messages?
 

It is evident that what is a "must" in our technology today -a Laser reader- will be totally obsolete in the future. However, due to its volume and innate fragility, a DVD disk reader cannot be included in KEO's payload. Therefore we are currently working on creating diagrams bearing simple symbolic explanations on the construction of a DVD disk reader in order to make it possible for our future descendants to access the contents of the disks. Following the example of the Rosetta Stone, this information will be repeatedly made available to them such that it is clear and easy to decode.


Do we need to pay anything to participate in this project?
 

No. KEO is an operation that is open to everybody free of cost.
In order to make it possible for everybody to participate, we have managed to restrict the cost of individual participation to the cost of an Internet connection or a postal stamp to send the message.


When can we start sending in our messages?
 

You can send your message right now, either via Internet at our site www.keo.org by visiting the page titled "Your Message" or by post to: KEO, BP 100 - 75262 PARIS Cedex 06 - France.


Can we write everything we want ?
 

Yes, each of us has 4 pages of freedom at his or her disposal to speak out, without undergoing any censorship and fully decide of the message's content. The only limit is not to exceed 6 000 signs, spaces included, that is to say the equivalent to 4 A4 size pages. This to allow the 6 billions of Earth's inhabitants, that we are today, to have a chance to participate into KEO. You only have the right to send one message. Besides, in order to permit to our descendants to know better who we were, some information fields have to be filled out: birth date, gender, mother tongue, language of the message… and others are optional, such as name, first name…


Can we also send drawings, photos, sounds...?
 

No, only written messages will be accepted. Drawings, photos and sound are heavy consumers of disk memory and would not permit each person living on this planet to express himself. Keeping in mind the physical constraints of the memory space, a certain form of restriction or censorship would have been necessary. This contradicts the spirit of the project that is collectively open to everybody. However since images and sound form an integral and important constituent of our times, they will be represented in the "Contemporary Library of Alexandria" (The Encyclopedia of all the knowledge, habits and customs of the man of the 21st century).


What about those people who are illiterate?
 

KEO depends essentially on the human solidarity to receive messages from those people who are illiterate.
We are currently working with several international networks to publicize the project and help in the collection of messages.
When a child hears about KEO at school, on television, in the library, or at the dispensary, we hope that he talks about this to his parents or his grand parents. If anybody amongst them do not know how to write, don't you think that this child would pen down their oral message?


What about those people who do not have access to the Internet?
 

If you do not have your own Internet access you may try and find it in the neighborhood-at a friend's place, at a cyber cafe, at the library, at school or at the city hall. Or you may address your message by regular post at: KEO, BP 100 - 75262 PARIS Cedex 06 - France.


In which language will the messages be preserved?
 

The messages will be stored in the author's original language, the language that he has chosen to express himself.


Can we consult the content of the messages?
 

Yes, all the messages, after being made anonymous, will be made available for consultation. We ourselves are looking for a wide coverage and readership of the messages. We believe that without a real exchange of messages between us, KEO will never completely attain its goal.
In fact even though KEO constitutes a formidable gift for the future generations, its real interest lies in the impact it will have on us today.
Slowly and gradually as the messages arrive they will be stocked in secured databases which will be made accessible via the Internet after the launch of KEO. Each person can thus can inquire about the community of Men in Africa, America, Australia, Asia and Europe...


How is this project financed?
 

KEO is a non-profit undertaking which is being realized solely through the benevolent contributions of several professionals, individuals, enterprises and institutes who pool in their knowledge free of any charge.
Thus, Programme KEO being an ethically transparent organization can avoid all criticism regarding better usage of resources for other objectives such as humanitarian goals.
Only the Project Co-ordination Team of Programme KEO that works full time to manage the different activities and participants has to find ways of financing its daily operations.


What energy resources will KEO utilize?
 

KEO does not have its own energy. It is a passive satellite which means that it does not contain any energy sources or active instrumentation on board. Once injected into the orbit, it is only subject to the laws of nature (ballistic forces, terrestrial attraction, lunar and planetary, pressure from solar radiation and breaking due to the Earth's residual atmosphere), that will be responsible for its long journey of 50,000 years before it returns to its native soil.


Can we communicate with KEO during its flight?
 

No, because KEO is a passive satellite and once launched into the orbit, it can no longer be contacted. Since it will be orbiting around 1,800 km above the Earth it will be possible to view its flight with the help of powerful optic telescopes. On the other hand to survive 50,000 years KEO has to be made up only of stable materials: interactive materials like batteries which would have permitted us to communicate with it, would have endangered its life due to their unpredictable decomposition.


Why does KEO have wings?
 

Purely for symbolic reasons is KEO adorned with two big wings. This image will appeal to the human imagination as a mythical figure of a bird that is the messenger of the people of the 21st century.


Keo being a passive satellite, how can it move its wings?
 

To allow its wings to flutter, KEO uses a leading-edge technology "shape memory alloys". These are metallic alloys that are able to assume different shapes according to different temperature ranges and revert to their original shapes each time they are brought back under their original temperature.
Thus KEO's wings will go down each time the satellite enters the Earth's cone of shadow, and go up as soon as KEO encounters direct sunlight again. Therefore, no form of energy is needed to make KEO's wings function.


How will the information forming the "Contemporary Library of Alexandria" be chosen?
 

A "Committee of Learned People" multicultural, multidisciplinary and multidimensional has the responsibility of classifying all information, geopolitical and cultural (translating our habits and customs) of the people of the 21st century for the benefit of our future descendants.


When will KEO be launched?
 

In accordance with the non-profit philosophy of the project, the satellite will be launched as a “secondary passenger”. Therefore it is dependant on the launching of a commercial or scientific mission whose orbit fits KEO’s one. According to the projected development plan of Ariane 5/10 tons launcher, the first possible launching range takes place around 2014 / 2015 .


Until when can I send a message?
 

On account of the new planned KEO launching date (2014 /2015) and of the projected KEO manufacturing calendar, the closing date for collecting messages is scheduled for the end of 2014. 18 months are actually necessary between the messages collection closure, their engraving on the glass disks to be boarded on KEO, and building the satellite .


To what extend can KEO be useful from today?
 

When KEO will be put on into orbit, all the messages received will be freely accessible on the site www.keo.org , under an anonymous form. Though, if one takes one reading minute for each page, it would take ten sleepless years to read only one million of messages! That is why all the messages will be analysed with computer based linguistic tools, so as to answer this double question : "who are we?", "what could we do together to realise a more human world?".

 
 





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