NASA is sending names to Mars as it launches its rover to the Red Planet in 2020. Anyone can participate and receive a "boarding pass".

Victoria Sek  |  Singapore
Published 2019-05-23 14:10:10

Armchair astronauts, here’s an opportunity to be involved with a NASA project. Sort of.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is offering people a chance to send their names up to Mars, as they will be launching a rover to the planet some time between July and August 2020 which will land some time in February 2021.

Anyone can submit their names to the Mars 2020 campaign before it closes on 30 September 2019.

nasa name to mars
My boarding pass to Mars

All you need to do is fill up a form here and get a “boarding pass” and “frequent flyer points”.

For each “flight”, you’ll be awarded miles and corresponding digital mission patches that can be downloaded, according to this source.

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.

A single dime-sized chip can hold more than a million engraved names, and the chip (or chips) will ride on the Mars 2020 rover under a glass cover, according to TODAY.

On NASA’s website the mission is described as part of “NASA’s Mars Exploration Program, a long-term effort of robotic exploration of the Red Planet”.

The Mars 2020 rover, weighing about 1,000kg, will search for signs of microbial life, collect samples of promising rocks and soils and put them aside in a “cache” on Mars, and test technologies that may benefit future expeditions to the planet.

NASA’s reason for the time of the launch in July or August next year is because “Earth and Mars will be in good positions relative to each other “.

During that period, it is more energy-efficient to travel to Mars, and to keep mission costs and risks low, the Mars 2020 design is based on past architecture, including its Curiosity rover and proven landing system.

“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 Washington.

“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.”

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

Last year, more than two million names went on NASA’s InSight mission to Mars, giving each “flyer” about 300 million frequent flyer miles (almost 500 million frequent flyer kilometers).

For more details about the Mars 2020 mission, check out this site.

Featured Image Credit: Space.com, Vulcan Post

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