Your Name In Space

If you are a space enthusiast, you can join other fans who have sent their names to extraterrestrial destinations for over two decades. Now is your chance to get in as it’s that time. Starting now and going through September 30, 2019, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is accepting names for the upcoming Mars 2020 Rover mission.

If you want your name to go up to Mars it is easy, simply type your name and location into a simple form on NASA’s website. When you hit send you will have an opportunity to print out a souvenir boarding pass. It even lists out the 300 million miles’ you would receive if you could get frequent flier miles.

Get Your Name on the Mars 2020 Rover

Once NASA vets the names, JPL’s Microdevices Laboratory will etch them into a silicon chip using an electron beam. Your name will be printed in a font that is about 75 nanometers, less than one-thousandth as thick as a hair on your head.

That is tiny yes, but allows for more than a million names to be inscribed on a microchip the size of a penny. However, with all the names that are likely to be submitted, it will likely take several chips. It is expected that there will be at least 2.4 million names submitted. That is roughly how many were etched on chips sent to Mars last year on NASA’s InSight lander.

The Mars 2020 rover should be an even bigger draw because of its role in NASA’s efforts to seek out proof of past or present life on Mars.

NASA’s Plans For The Mars 2020 Rover

Thomas Zurbuchen said, “We want everyone to share in this journey of exploration.” Zurbuchen is the Washington Associate Administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. In a recent news release, he stated, “It’s an exciting time for NASA, as we embark on this voyage to answer profound questions about our neighboring planet, and even the origins of life itself.”

The rover weighs over a ton and is the size of a small car. It will lift off some time in 2020 and land on Mars in 2021. The primary main of the Rover will be focused on Jezero Crater. It will explore an ancient dried-up river delta that is located near a large impact basin. NASA wants to know if rocks and soil surrounding the crater contain any organic molecules or traces of microbes.

Last November, Mars 2020 project scientist Ken Farley stated, “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”.

This Mars Rover is Nuclear Powered

The rover is powered with plutonium so it has a long life span. Its job is to collect soil and rock samples and save them while NASA looks to find a means to bring them back to earth when NASA establishes a future Mars round trip. NASA is also putting a small helicopter on the rover plus an experiment that is aimed at producing oxygen by processing Mars’ carbon-dioxide atmosphere. These experiments may be valuable if NASA plans to have astronauts set up shop on Mars.

“They had better have good eyes or a microscope, but it is still fun to think about.”

I think it is fascinating to think that, centuries from now, interplanetary explorers could recover the microchips full of all of the names added to the Mars 2020 rover’s body.