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Every kid wants to be an astronaut. Spaceships, aliens, planets, stars, black holes... way more than you could explore in a lifetime. But no kid spends their summer days pretending to be a Prospector. Huh, when was the last time you heard about what we do for humankind?

I remember the noise that woke me:


Oxygen in the suit felt thin. I must have been drifting for days.

But I didn't need to ask where I was, the crushing heat of the sun told me well enough. As for who I was, I didn't remember. And at that moment I didn't care, because there is nothing as terrifying as free floating in space.

It felt like my entire body was straining to hear that garbled noise again. As if I could be swept away to safety by a sound.


I managed.

My voice sounded electronic, but not the unpleasant or grating sort. I was expecting a heavier sound, you know, like physical vibrations. This was faster and lighter.

Hi Nicolas!

someone replied cheerily.

Again I heard an electronic voice, but they sounded much too happy to be floating helplessly towards the sun alongside me.


Suddenly she was there, a robot like I'd never seen before, extending me what was probably her impression of a helping hand.

Come on!

she said lightly.

Are you okay Prospector?

she asked, accelerating quickly.


Before I had a chance to respond, my visor lit up with an array of buttons, panels, and readouts.

nicolas> End Hibernation...
nicolas> Internal Interface ready!
nicolas> Status Check...
Energy: 37%
Pressure: Safe

think so!

Okay! Here we go...

And with that, we fell into Mercury's atmosphere.

What are we doing here?

I had no idea how we survived so far, but I couldn't complain about that.

We're on an adventure!

She told me her name was Ema, and that she was a Planet Jumper.

hint: click me!

Suddenly I felt something. Something familiar and new at the same time, and it was urging me to find it.

Could it be the golden object?

Didn't see anything...

we said to each other.

There didn't seem to be much here after all. Perhaps we would find what we were looking for somewhere else.

We'd gotten our first golden object without much trouble, aside from the insane temperature fluctuations, and a strange note to boot. Better not push our luck here.


Everyone knows sound can't travel through space!

why is there sound out here?

Maybe I should have been more concerned with how I got out here, millions of miles away from home, but I couldn't stop thinking about the music.

The electro-magnetic waves?

Ema glanced at me, puzzled.

But humans can't-

I fell silent, thinking.

Maybe we're not human!

Ema laughed, sarcasm in her voice. Maybe she hadn't looked in a mirror lately. Then again, neither had I.

We could see electricity arcing across the clouds, but that only made it more exciting. Every kick-ass adventure needs some thunder and lightning.

We grinned together.

Let's find some treasure!

These records must have had thousands of grooves, each creating a perfect circle. Over those was a faint image of Earth, as if to say where the object came from.

[ LOG 4 / 7 ]

...find and recover all of the golden objects. If everything is going as planned, you should have a Prospector and Planet Jumper in your company. While Prospectors are specially attuned to finding golden objects, Jumpers are able to travel quickly between planets. Working together...

That's it!

Ema said as I dug out the second record.

[ LOG 5 / 7 ]

..you should be able to explore every bit of the solar system, and this may well be required. Due to the aforementioned event, we were forced to scatter these golden objects, lest they be found too easily by the wrong hands. It is important that you do not separate, except in the most dire of situations...

I'm picking up 2 anomalies!

I said excitedly.

I feel like a human!

But look at me!

No matter what, Ema always sounded happy. It was strange enough talking to a robot, but one with a cheerful personality was just bizarre. Still, at that moment, she was... sad?

Don't worry, someone on Earth will know.

I tried to comfort Ema, and although I don't think it helped much, she thanked me anyway.

This is Prospector Nicolas,

I said automatically as we entered Earth.

Can anyone hear me?

We listened and called out over and over, but no one responded. It was only after we gave up on contacting anyone that I noticed the absence of any golden objects.

Where is everyone?

Ema said softly as we left.

I don't know why, but I just started singing.

Sometimes, all we need is a little electromagnetic music to get us back on track.

Maybe we'll meet Curiosity,

mused Ema as we landed.

Red dust and orange rust kicked up around us as we touched down. I was glad to feel the pulling sensation of a golden object again.

I hope he knows where the loot is!


It was Ema that saw it first, and this time we were expecting the message when it appeared.

[ LOG 3 / 7 ]

...Each golden object contains the codified remains of the human race, and you all have been modified to experience a unique portion of this data when in close proximity. Your mission is to...


We were speeding towards something, and it wasn't a planet. It looked like a series of spots, stretching so far across that we couldn't see where they started or stopped.

Suddenly it hit us.


We shouted together.

What with avoiding asteroids left and right, I only just noticed the familiar draw of a golden object.

That was lucky,

We agreed.

It could have been anywhere in the asteroid belt. I mean, this ring swoops all the way around the sun. Can you imagine how long that could have taken us to find?

[ LOG 7 / 7 ]

...you have each been given an incomplete range of human memories and knowledge, it is very likely that you will think yourself a 'human'. As you are carrying everything we once were, you may as well be. So congratulations, honorary humans! Good luck, and let the golden objects lead you!

That was the second time the messages mentioned the disappearance of humankind, but still we had no explanation of how it happened or where they went.

We were representatives of the human race!

Most excellent!

We shouted, high fiving and playing air guitars.

Wow, look at the pressure!

Ema said, relaying her sensor readings.

Neither of us fancied taking a dip in Jupiter's storms and the atmosphere was having a field day with my sensors, so if there was anything here the only way we'd find it was by sight. After several fruitless orbits, we used the planet's enormous gravitational pull to sling shot towards Saturn.

What do you think it means:

I asked Ema.

'Let the objects guide you'

She paused, scratching her head in a most un-robotic manner.

Maybe they create a map?

They each had the same faint image of Earth on them, so it didn't seem likely that they were puzzle pieces. But maybe Ema was on to something...

Much like Jupiter, we couldn't go far into Saturn before the environment became fatal, but here the winds were even faster. Instead, we decided to skim Saturn's surface and rings in the hopes we would catch a golden object that hadn't sunk in too deep.


We floated over the object and scooped it up. The electromagnetic waves must have been warped by Saturn's atmosphere, because the sound was especially radical here.

[ LOG 6 / 7 ]

...or else your Prospector will be forced into hibernation until rejoined with his or her Planet Jumper. In addition to travel, Jumpers are also regenerative power generators, and supply over 9000 megajoules(MJ) the Prospector needs to sustain such powerful sensors. Finally, seeing as...

You know where we're going next?

Ema sniggered as she asked me.

Hmm... nope!

Now it was my turn to scratch my head.


Ema waved her arms wildly as she laughed.

I had to laugh as well. Sure, it was a terrible joke, but when was the last time you could actually say that while on a trip to Uranus?

I think we both felt it as we landed on Uranus, but Ema was the first to say anything, all traces of her recent hilarity gone.

This place feels evil Nicolas.

I'm getting the heeby-jeebes too.

I whispered back.

There was something here, I knew it. But somehow it was different from all the other planets.

Ice and rock tore apart with horrendous force as a creature with teeth for a brain burst up in front of us. With an uncharacteristic lack of evil bad-dude speeches, it lunged at us.

Watch out!

I shouted, jumping aside.

Ema and I seemed to understand each other without another word: no toothy ground-sucking punk was going to ruin our day.

We swapped stories of our fight on Uranus the whole way to Neptune. Ema told me how she melted its face off with lasers, and I reminded her how I shocked it with super-beats from my boombox.


We cheered, remembering our simultaneous uppercut.

We both agreed that was the coolest thing we'd ever seen, and would definitely have to go down in history as one of the ultimate achievements of humanity.

There's just one here.

I was getting pretty good at this.

Let's be careful...

Ema trailed off, scanning the surface.

The cobalt blue of the Planet cut through the shards floating in Neptune's atmosphere and burst into a thousand lights. It'd be absolutely chill if it wasn't so cold.

We were a lot more cautious this time, and snuck as close as we could before pouncing on the golden object.

[ LOG 1 / 7 ]

Greetings! If you are reading this, we are awfully sorry to say that humankind is in great danger. There is no time to explain, but suffice to say we are currently facing an extinction event. As you are the very last effort of humanity...

Everyone's... gone?

That was it? No more humanity?


It was almost as cold as Uranus.

The sun may have be terrifyingly hot, but the longer we spent here the fuzzier my memory got. Disappointed, I threw the final object into our collection. This was the last planet and we had all the golden objects, but knowing we were the last...

As the last golden object fit into our collection, the set started to hum.

As we looked at each other in surprise, we heard another beat, then another, and then a wave of noise as the golden objects started to circle us.

Over everything we heard a voice.

It worked! They've found the pieces!

It was followed by millions of voices cheering, whooping, and clapping. There were even a few whistles.

We're still alive in here!

The voice reassured us as another voice chimed in.

Will you find us a new home?

A large glowing map took our attention as the voice faded. At the top left was the solar system, and stretching from it in every direction were paths through the stars. One path was brighter than the others. Who knows what we'd find out there.

I turned to Ema.

That's a long way to go.

But she didn't hesitate for a moment.

Remember? We're on an adventure!


Amanda Connelly
Amy Gehling
Calvin LaBrie
Ashley Palmer
Keaton Solomon
Collin Hover




in collaboration with NASA and

NASA Prospect was created by a group of student designers at the University of South Dakota in collaboration with NASA and the Humans in Space Art program. As the students had no experience with web development prior to this project, advanced coding assistance was provided by their professor, Collin Hover. We hope you enjoyed the experience!


by Stellardrone

March of the Sybots
by Sum-1

by PDF

Taking the Bus
by Sum-1
(saturn object)

by Maciej Bether
(neptune object)


Moth Returns
by Professor Kliq
(venus object)

Moloko Plus
by Anitek
(mars object)

Planetary Accretion
by Helarkon

by Stellardrone

by Celestial Aeon Project

Superiority Complex
by Professor Kliq

(asteroids object)

Bust This Bust That
by Professor Kliq
(uranus fight)

I Don't Know the Title
by Adibudi

Main Title
by Sunsearcher
(mercury object)

Making Me Nervous
by Brad Sucks
(earth to mars)

Feeling Scattered
by Grace Valhalla

An Indian Rose
by Klangwuerfel-Records

All music found on Jamendo and is copyright to the respective artists.