Monday, 18 November, 2019


NASA Invites You to Add Your Name to the Next Mars Mission

The NASA 2020 Mars spacecraft Enlarge Image
Kristine Garrett | 24 May, 2019, 18:44

Members of the public who want to send their name to Mars on NASA's next rover mission to the Red Planet (Mars 2020) can get a souvenir boarding pass and their names etched on microchips to be affixed to the rover. You still have until September 30th to participate.

Submitted names that are approved will be stenciled onto a silicon chip using an electron beam by the Microdevices Laboratory at Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California.

The names will be compiled and stenciled as lines of text smaller than one-thousandth the width of a human hair - which is roughly 75 nanometres.

This is not the first time NASA has let people send their names to Mars.

"We want everyone to share in this journey of exploration", Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington, said in a news release.

The rover - which weighs over a tonne - will embark on a search for signs of past microbial life, characterise the planet's climate and geology as well as collect samples to be brought back to Earth, serving as a stepping stone for future Mars exploration by humans.

NASA did something similar when it sent its InSight lander to Mars, which landed on the planet a year ago.

NASA's Curiosity rover, InSight lander, and Reconnaissance Orbiter are all doing remarkable work on and around the Red Planet, but that's not stopping scientists from pushing ahead with plans to send yet another piece of high-tech hardware to the Martian surface.

The Mars 2020 spacecraft, which will carry the rover during its seven-month-long trip from Earth to its destination, is almost ready for time in the spotlight, but there's still some work to be done before a launch date can be solidified.

To further get people interested in the agency's journey, NASA would give away "miles" (or kilometers) for every "flight", with its own digital mission patches that are available online. At least that's what NASA said, and I'll take their word for it. Pictured: This expansive view of the martian real estate surrounding the Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity is the first 360 degree, high-resolution color image taken by the rover's panoramic camera February 2, 2004.

You could join the trip too, by sending your name to ride along with the rover.

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