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NASA Takes The Beatles 'Across the Universe' Literally

NASA will beam The Beatles' song, "Across the Universe," into deep space Monday in an unprecedented long distance dedication by the U.S. agency.

NASA's Deep Space Network will transmit the song at 7:00 p.m. EST (0000 Feb. 5 GMT) on Feb. 4 in honor of several cosmic-themed anniversaries.

Monday marks the 40th anniversary of the day the song was recorded. This year also marks the 50th anniversary of NASA's founding and the inception of The Beatles. Two other milestones also are being honored including, the 50th anniversary of Explorer 1, the first U.S. satellite, and the 45th birthday of the Deep Space Network, an international network of antennas that supports missions to explore the universe.

The transmission is aimed at the North Star, Polaris, 431 light-years away from Earth, travelling at a speed of 186,000 miles per second (300,000 kps).

"Across the Universe," though credited to "Lennon/McCartney," was principally written by Beatle John Lennon, and the lyrics speak of "limitless undying love which/shines around me like a million suns."

"Amazing! Well done, NASA!" said former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney in a message to the space agency. "Send my love to the aliens."

Lennon's widow, Yoko Ono, commented: "I see that this is the beginning of the new age in which we will communicate with billions of planets across the universe."

NASA has used Beatles music before, notably in November 2005, when McCartney performed the song "Good Day Sunshine" during a concert transmitted to the International Space Station. "Here Comes the Sun," "Ticket to Ride" and "A Hard Day's Night" have also been played in wake-up calls to astronaut crews in orbit.

The public around the world has been invited to participate in the event by playing the song at the same time it is transmitted by NASA.

Many of the senior NASA scientists and engineers involved consider themselves among the group's biggest fans.

[Ed. note: What we would like to know, of course, is if McCartney's group Wings' hit single, "Venus and Mars," will be beamed towards Venus and/or Mars anytime soon.]

Space.com Staff
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