October 8th, 2017
When NASA’s InSight lander reaches Mars in November 2018, it will carry with it hundreds of thousands of names from members of the public. In 2015, nearly 827,000 people signed up to add their names to a silicon microchip onboard the robotic spacecraft. NASA is now adding another microchip, giving the public a second chance to send their names to Mars.
“Mars continues to excite space enthusiasts of all ages,” said Bruce Banerdt, the InSight mission’s principal investigator at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. “This opportunity lets them become a part of the spacecraft that will study the inside of the Red Planet.”
New name submissions will be accepted through November 1, 2017, at this link.
Participants in the fly-your-name opportunity receive “frequent flier” points that reflect their participation in NASA’s exploration of Mars. Individuals who submitted their names during the earlier Insight opportunity in 2015 can download a “boarding pass” and see their “frequent flier” miles.
In 2014, a chip carrying the names 0f 1.38 million people flew aboard Exploration Flight Test-1 (EFT-1), the first flight of NASA’s Orion spacecraft. The next opportunity after InSight to earn frequent flier points will be NASA’s Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1), the first flight which will bring the Orion spacecraft together with the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket to travel thousands of miles beyond the Moon.
NASA’s InSight (Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport) lander will be the first mission to explore the deep interior of Mars. InSight will set down a seismometer to detect marsquakes and meteor strikes, using the seismic energy of these phenomena to study material far below the Martian surface. The lander will also deploy a self-hammering heat probe that will burrow deeper into the ground than any previous device on Mars.
InSight is scheduled to launch atop an Atlas V 401 booster from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, in May of 2018.
Jim Sharkey is a lab assistant, writer and general science enthusiast who grew up in Enid, Oklahoma, the hometown of Skylab and Shuttle astronaut Owen K. Garriott. As a young Star Trek fan he participated in the letter-writing campaign which resulted in the space shuttle prototype being named Enterprise.
While his academic studies have ranged from psychology and archaeology to biology, he has never lost his passion for space exploration. Jim began blogging about science, science fiction and futurism in 2004.
Jim resides in the San Francisco Bay area and has attended NASA Socials for the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover landing and the NASA LADEE lunar orbiter launch.