Although it will be years before the first humans set foot on Mars, NASA is giving the public an opportunity to send their names — stencilled on chips — to the Red Planet with NASA's Mars 2020 rover, which represents the initial leg of humanity’s first round trip to another planet. The rover is scheduled to launch in 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 (1,000 kilograms), will search for signs of past microbial life, characterise the planet's climate and geology, collect samples for future return to Earth, and pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet.
"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 neighbouring planet, and even the origins of life itself.”
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 journey from the Moon to Mars. Miles (or kilometres) 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 kilometres).
From now until September 30th you can add your name to the list and obtain a souvenir boarding pass here.
Read about the sound of the wind on Mars here.