Members of the public who want to send their name to Mars on NASA’s next rover mission to the Red Planet can get a souvenir boarding pass and their names etched on microchips to be affixed to the rover (via NASA/JPL-Caltech).
It will be years before the first people set foot on the Red Planet. And those who do will need extensive training.
As a comfort prize for the rest of us, NASA is offering to fly your name—etched onto a microchip—on the Mars 2020 rover.
The spacecraft is scheduled to launch as early as next summer and should touch down on Earth’s sister planet in February 2021.
“As we get ready to launch this historic Mars mission, we want everyone to share in this journey of exploration,” Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate (SMD), said in a statement.
Sign up before Sept. 30 to receive a souvenir boarding pass, which you can download, print, and frame, pretending your childhood dreams of becoming an astronaut weren’t crushed.
Scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory will use an electron beam to stencil submitted names onto a silicon chip. Each line of text is smaller than one-thousandth the width of a human hair, making room for more than a million names on a single dime-sized chip.
The component(s) will ride on the rover under a glass cover.
If your John Hancock gets imprinted on the capsule, you’ll earn “frequent flyer” points (unfortunately not transferable to terrestrial flights).
More than 2 million names traveled on NASA’s InSight mission to Mars, earning each “flyer” about 300 million miles.
Corresponding digital mission patches are also available for download.
NASA has chosen Jezero Crater as the landing site for the Mars 2020 rover, a robotic scientist weighing more than 2,300 lbs.
The probe will look for signs of past microbial life, characterize the planet’s climate and geology, collect samples for a future return to Earth, and ultimately pave the way for human exploration.
“It’s an exciting time for NASA,” Zurbuchen said, “as we embark on this voyage to answer profound questions about our neighboring planet, and even the origins of life itself.”