NASA has sent satellites, probes and rovers to Mars, but for years, the space agency has eyed a manned mission to Mars.
Humanity’s first steps on another world are still years away, but for now, NASA is inviting Earthlings everywhere to send their names to the red planet.
NASA’s online “Boarding Pass” is part of a public engagement campaign that will send names, stenciled on chips, to Mars with the scheduled 2020 rover – which NASA says “represents the initial leg of humanity’s first round trip to another planet.”
“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) in Washington, said in a news release. “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.”
With more than one million names already submitted, how can NASA fit all those names onto the payload destined for Mars?
Just print them small. Very small.
The names will be stenciled onto a silicon chip in lines of text at 75 nanometers using an electron beam from the Microdevices Laboratory at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in the Pasadena area. That’s smaller than one-thousandth the width of a human hair. At that size, more than a million names can fit on a single dime-size chip, NASA says.
From now until Sept. 30, you can add your name at go.NASA.gov/Mars2020Pass.
NASA is planning to return humans to the moon in 2024 as a step in the goal of reaching Mars and beyond. You can find more information on the Mars 2020 rover here.