NASA is giving the public an opportunity to send their names – stenciled on chips – with the Mars 2020 rover mission. The rover is scheduled to launch as early as July 2020, with the spacecraft expected to touch down on Mars in February 2021.
NASA 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-sized microchip. The chip (or chips) will ride on the rover under a glass cover.
From now until September 30, you can add your name to the list (and obtain a souvenir boarding pass to Mars) here.
NASA said that the robotic rover 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 Mars.
When you sign up to send your name, you will get a souvenir boarding pass and “frequent flyer” points. 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).
Bottom line: How to sign up to send your name to Mars with NASA’s 2020 rover mission.
Eleanor Imster has helped write and edit EarthSky since 1995. She was an integral part of the award-winning EarthSky radio series almost since it began until it ended in 2013. Today, as Lead Editor at EarthSky.org, she helps present the science and nature stories and photos you enjoy. She also serves as one of the voices of EarthSky on social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter and G+. She and her husband live in Tennessee and have two grown sons.