The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is giving people on earth a chance to send their name to Mars stowed on the Mars 2020 rover before it launches to the Red Planet. This opportunity closes on September 30 (noon, October 1 BST), so that they have enough time to stencil the submitted names on a chip that will be affixed to the rover. So far, there are over 10 million names.
The Mars 2020 rover is scheduled to launch on July 2020 and expected to touch down on Mars in February 2021. This represents the initial leg of humanity's first planned round trip to another planet.
Weighing 2,300 pounds (1,040 kilograms), the Mars 2020 rover will search for signs of past microbial life on the planet, characterize its climate and geology, collect samples and pave the way for human exploration.
The opportunity to send your name to Mars opened on May 21, 2019. It comes with a souvenir boarding pass and "frequent flyer" points. It is part of a public engagement campaign that highlight missions involved with NASA's journey from the Moon to Mars.
The Micro-devices Laboratory at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory will use an electron bean to stencil the names onto a silicon chip with lines of text smaller than one-thousandth the width of a human hair (75 nanometers). Millions of names can be written on a single dime-size chip. The chip will ride on the rover under a glass cover.
Children in US school in grades K-12 are also getting a chance to name the rover itself through a contest that is scheduled to close on November 1.