It will be years before humans can get to Mars, but you have a chance to earn a boarding pass of your own.
NASA announced Tuesday that you can now send your name over on a microchip with NASA's Mars 2020 rover. Register online by September 30 and a team in Pasadena, California will use an electron beam to write your name on a silicon chip with lines of text smaller than one-thousandth the width of a human hair (75 nanometers). The chip will hitch a ride on the rover for its July 2020 launch to Mars.
It's just one easy step online to get your name to Mars.
Click here to head to the NASA website where you can enter your name. Add your country, zip code, and email and hit send. You'll instantly get a boarding pass like this one.
You can earn "frequent flyer" points to help you follow missions like this one, and keep up with the rover. This is part of a public engagement campaign to highlight missions involved with NASA's journey from the Moon to Mars. 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).
NASA says the rover is a 2300 pound device that acts as a "mini-scientist." It looks for signs of microbial life, checks out Mars' climate, and takes some samples to one day bring back to Earth. Its design is similar to Curiosity, with some additions including a drill that can collect samples of rocks. Click here for a NASA overview of the mission.
"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 in a press 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.”
You can add your name now through September 30.
NASA is using Mars 2020, in connection with other missions, to prepare the way for humans to land on Mars. The agency has already announced it will return American astronauts to the Moon in 2024.