When Americans landed on the moon, they planted a U.S. flag. (As well as, um, some other stuff.) The flags from multiple U.S. missions are still standing, although their stars and stripes have faded to white. As we gear up to send humans to Mars in the 2030s, designer Oskar Pernefeldt began wondering what flag members of the first manned Mars missions might plant when they arrive. 

As part of his graduation project at Beckmans College of Design in Sweden, Pernefeldt designed a new flag that would convey the international nature of space travel. Astronauts, he writes, “are more than just representatives of their own countries. They are representatives of planet Earth.”  

The flag is blue to represent the importance of water to life on Earth. Seven rings (standing in for the seven continents) interlock to form a flower, suggesting the interconnection of the world, regardless of territory or nationality.  

With endeavors like the International Space Station helping to forge cooperation between multiple countries in the pursuit of scientific knowledge, space exploration is more internationally collaborative than it was in the days of the U.S.-Soviet space race. (After all, the U.S. currently needs Russian cooperation to even get its astronauts up to the ISS). Pernefeldt suggests that the flag might also be used in Antarctica, where several countries have made territorial claims but an international treaty prohibits claims of sovereignty.

Now that we have a flag, it's time to go out and start claiming some interplanetary territory—before the aliens do.

[h/t: Wired UK]

All images courtesy Oskar Pernefeldt, The International Flag of Planet Earth