With NASA committing to manned missions to the Moon and Mars in the coming years, they’re launching various programs to get the public more involved. The latest effort gives people the chance to have their name stenciled on a computer chip that’ll be sent up with NASA’s Mars 2020 rover. As a “receipt” for getting your name into space, NASA is producing souvenir boarding passes for people online. While you won’t get airline frequent flier miles for the 313,586,649 mile journey, you’ll have proof that your name landed on the red planet.
The Mars 2020 Rover is scheduled to launch as early as July 2020, with the spacecraft expected to touch down on Mars in February 2021. The rover, a robotic scientist weighing more than 2,300 pounds , will search for signs of past microbial life, characterize the planet’s climate and geology, collect samples for future return to Earth, and pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet. The Microdevices Laboratory at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, will use an electron beam to stencil the submitted names onto a silicon chip with lines of text smaller than one-thousandth the width of a human hair (75 nanometers). At that size, more than a million names can be written on a single dime-size chip. The chip (or chips) will ride on the rover under a glass cover.
“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.”
The opportunity to send your name to Mars runs from now to September 30. To list your name on the Rover and to obtain the souvenir boarding pass to Mars here, simply visit this website.
NASA will use Mars 2020 and other missions to prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet. As another step toward that goal, with a directive from President Donald Trump, NASA is returning American astronauts to the Moon in 2024. Government, industry and international partners will join NASA in a global effort to build and test the systems needed for human missions to Mars and beyond.
The Mars 2020 Project at JPL manages rover development for SMD. NASA’s Launch Services Program, based at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, is responsible for launch management. Mars 2020 will launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.