HOUSTON - NASA is giving the public an opportunity to send their names — etched on microchips — to Mars via its rover that is set to launch next summer.
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 opportunity to send your name to Mars comes with a souvenir boarding pass and "frequent flyer" points.
This is part of a public engagement campaign to highlight missions involved with NASA's journeys to the moon and Mars.
Miles (or kilometers) are awarded for each "flight," with corresponding digital mission patches available for download. More than 2 million names flew on NASA's InSight mission to Mars, giving each "flyer" about 300 million frequent flyer miles (nearly 500 million frequent flyer kilometers).
From now until Sept. 30, you can add your name to the list and obtain a souvenir boarding pass to Mars by signing up here.
The Microdevices Laboratory at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, will use an electron beam to etch the submitted names onto a silicon chip with lines of text smaller than one-thousandth the width of a human hair, or 75 nanometers. At that size, more than a million names can be inscribed on a single dime-size microchip. The chip (or chips) will ride on the rover under a glass cover.
The rover, a robotic scientific device weighing more than 2,300 pounds (1,000 kilograms), 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.
NASA will use Mars 2020 and other missions to prepare for human exploration of the red planet. As another step toward that goal, 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.
For more information on Mars 2020, visit https://www.nasa.gov/mars2020. For more about NASA's Moon to Mars plans, visit https://www.nasa.gov/topics/moon-to-mars.
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