The boarding pass you receive after submitting your name.

By Jasmine Haroun

NASA is inviting people all over the world to submit their names to be a part of the next mission to Mars. The submitted names will be etched onto a microchip that will be sent with a rover on the next mission to Mars. It is scheduled to take off July 17, 2020 and touch down on the Red Planet on February 18, 2021.

“As we get ready to launch this historic Mars mission, we want everyone to share in this journey of exploration,” said Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington D.C.

NASA will be launching the rover from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and will be sent to the Jezero crater on Mars. It is programmed to explore the region where scientists believe could have once supported microbial life.

“The Mars 2020 mission rover will gather samples from Martian rocks and soil using its drill. The rover will then store the sample cores in tubes on the Martian surface. This entire process is called ‘sample caching.’ Mars 2020 will be the first mission to demonstrate this on Mars. It could potentially pave the way for future missions that could collect the samples and return them to Earth for intensive laboratory analysis,” said NASA.

NASA’s mission team members at Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) will use an electron beam to etch all the submitted names onto a microchip. The lines of text are less than 0.1 percent, as wide as a human hair and about one million names can be squeezed onto a single chip.

As of now, over seven million names have been submitted, so needless to say, NASA will need more than one chip for this project.

NASA believes that this mission will expand our knowledge of outer space and expand the horizons for the human race. It also hopes that the partnerships of other countries and space stations will unify nations, create new economic opportunities and inspire future generations.

The rover has not yet been named and, as NASA has done in the past with its other rovers, it will hold a naming contest for students grades K-12. The ‘Name the Rover’ contest will be open to students in the fall.

To submit a name to be etched onto a microchip, visit bitly.com/marsname2020 and complete the short form. The entry deadline is on Monday, September 30. For information on the rover, visit https://mars.nasa.gov/mars2020/.

For information on the Mars 2020 mission, visit www.nasa.gov/specials/moon2mars/.