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'The Last Pictures' could be the Earth's final time capsule

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The Last Pictures disc
The Last Pictures disc

Human beings have buried time capsules throughout history for future generations to find, but artist and author Trevor Paglen has taken the idea one step further by launching one into space. The project, called The Last Pictures, is a compilation of 100 black and white photographs meant to show the cultural impact of the human race. After being etched into an archival disc contained in a gold-plated shell, the collection was launched on November 20th into geostationary orbit, where it is designed to survive for billions of years.

Even after the satellite goes dark, The Last Pictures will remain in orbit until the Earth as we know it no longer exists — or until a new civilization, human or otherwise, finds it. "This is not a project that's supposed to explain to aliens what humans are all about and be the definitive record of human civilization," Paglen tells The Atlantic. "It is a collection of images that explained to somebody in the future what happened to all of the people who build the dead spaceships in orbit around the Earth. And how they killed themselves."