LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA — Although it will be years before the first humans set foot on Mars, the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is giving the public an opportunity to send their names, stenciled on chips, to the Red Planet with NASA’s Mars 2020 rover.
Those who want to send their names to the Red Planet on the Mars 2020 mission can get a souvenir boarding pass and their names stenciled on chips to be affixed to the rover, according to NASA.
The event will last until Sept. 30, 2019. People from around the world have sent in more than 3.3 million names to fly aboard Mars 2020 by Thursday night, with submissions from Turkey leading the way.
“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 in Washington.
“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,” he said.
Mars 2020 is scheduled to launch as early as July 2020, with the spacecraft expected to touch down on Mars in February 2021.
The rover, weighing more than 2,300 pounds (over 1,000 kg), will search for signs of past microbial life, characterize the planet’s climate and geology, collect samples for its future return to Earth, and pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet.