While scientists develop plans to return humans to the moon and colonize Mars in the distant future, NASA is offering the opportunity to send a souvenir with your name to Mars. NASA plans to launch a new rover in July 2020 and carry some names to the Red Planet. The rover is expected to reach Mars in February 2021 and carry on the legacy of the previous rovers. It will also represent humanity’s presence on the planet.
The “robotic scientist,” as NASA calls it in the press release, weighs more than 2,300 pounds and is designed to dig for evidence of past microbial life and learn more about Mars’ climate and geology. The robot is also designed to collect rock samples to send back to Earth, paving the way for more exploration of the Red Planet.
“As we get ready to launch this historic Mars mission, we want everyone to share in this journey of exploration,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate (SMD), in the press release. “It’s an exciting time for NASA, as we embark on this voyage to answer profound questions about our neighboring planet, and even the origins of life itself.”
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Aboard the rover, you can send a souvenir with your name to Mars. This is part of a public campaign to highlight upcoming missions to the moon and Mars. Each flight is awarded its own section of miles (or kilometers) with digital mission patches which are available to download.
This is not the only mission that allows the public to send their signatures to space. NASA flew more than 2 million names as part of its InSight mission to Mars, with each “flyer” making for about 300 million frequent flyer miles.
If you want to participate and send a souvenir with your name to Mars, you can download a form to fill out and obtain a souvenir boarding pass until Sept. 30. You can join in here.
According to the press release, NASA plans to use the Microdevices Laboratory at Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif. to prepare the names for the trip. The engineers will use an electron beam to etch the submitted names on a silicon chip with text measuring smaller than one-thousandth the width of a human hair (or 75 nanometers.) With this technique, NASA can add more than a million names to a single dime-sized chip.