NASA is giving people of every age and nationality the opportunity to have their names etched into its upcoming Mars 2020 rover which is set to launch on its expedition to the red planet next year.
All you have to do to be one of the lucky names heading to Mars is fill out the online form on NASA’s website before September 30. Once every name is submitted, NASA will have the scientists at the Microdevices Laboratory at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California use a beam of electrons to etch every one of them into a silicon chip.
The lines of text will be smaller than one-thousandth the width of a human hair, allowing over one million names to be carved into one single chip the size of a penny.
Most likely, NASA will end up having to use more than one chip, considering the 2.4 million people who submitted their names to be written on Mars’s InSight lander last November. This chip (or chips) will be fitted onto the rover underneath a glass cover.
Those who submit their names will also receive “frequent flyer” points along with a souvenir “boarding pass to Mars” as part of NASA’s public engagement campaign to highlight missions related to the space agency’s exploration plans for the moon and Mars.
Every time you participate in a flight, you will be awarded miles, and as they accumulate, you can use these miles to download mission patches. For instance, those who had their names etched on the InSight lander earned about 300 million frequent flyer miles as that is the distance it traveled to get to Mars.
“This opportunity provides an incredible way for every person, in every nation around the world, to be part of this experience and to see their own names written among the stars," Lori Glaze, director of NASA's Planetary Science Division, told Newsweek.
This newest mission is meant to gather data on Mars’s climate and geology, search for signs of past microbial life and collect samples to bring back to earth. The 2,300-pound rover is scheduled to launch as soon as June in 2020 with the projected landing date being around February 2021.
"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," said Thomas Zurbuchen, from NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington, in a statement. "As we get ready to launch this historic Mars mission, we want everyone to share in this journey of exploration."
NASA’s long-term mission is to return humans to the moon in 2024 and to have them on the red planet in the 2030s. This 2020 mission is just one step towards the feats they are hoping to accomplish in the future.