The U.S. space agency recently opened an opportunity for the general public to send their names, have them etched on microchips and get sent to Planet Mars via NASA's 2020 rover. When it launched its Insight robotic lander in 2018, more than two million names were carried by the spacecraft.
The chip (or chips, if there's enough names), will backpack on the rover to the red planet under a glass cover.
NASA may not be ready to take passengers to Mars, but you'll be able to put your name down in the meantime - quite literally. To be included among the many who will be immortalized on our celestial neighbor, all you have to do is go to the Mars 2020 website and sign up with your email address before September 30.
"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)".
The campaign is part of an effort to raise public awareness about NASA's activities and to inspire and educate children about space and STEM-related study.
"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".
"The delta is a good place for evidence of life to be deposited and then preserved for the billions of years that have elapsed since this lake was present", Mars 2020 project scientist Ken Farley said last November, when NASA revealed where the rover would be going.
For each "flight", you'll be awarded miles and corresponding digital mission patches that can be downloaded, according to this source.
Now, when you log into the NASA Mars 2020 mission page, you can check your frequent flyer points and the rewards earned from them.
The names will be dispatched with the Mars 2020 rover, which is now under construction. After landing, it will get to work and search for signs of microbial life, collect soil samples and overall do its best to help us pave the way to a future Martian colony. As another step toward that goal, NASA is returning American astronauts to the Moon in 2024.
The Mars 2020 rover is almost identical to the Curiosity rover, which landed on the Red Planet in August 2012. Government, industry and worldwide partners will join NASA in a global effort to build and test the systems needed for human missions to Mars and beyond.