WASHINGTON: Now, even if you can’t go to Mars, your name still can.
NASA is asking members of the public to submit their names to fly to Mars aboard the space agency’s next lander, launching to the red planet in 2016.
All names submitted before Sept. 8 will be flown to Mars on a silicon microchip onboard the InSight lander, and one high-profile space fan is already supporting the program.
“It’s a fun way to get interested in space exploration,” William Shatner, the original Captain Kirk on Star Trek, said.
This isn’t the first time a NASA mission has flown names to space. The New Horizonsspacecraft, which recently flew by Pluto but launched to space in 2006, carried more than 430,000 names with it on its close approach to the dwarf planet.
In December 2014, 1.38 million names flew to space for the Orion spacecraft’s first uncrewed flight, NASA said. Orion is designed to bring people farther into space than ever before, taking astronauts to destinations like Mars and even an asteroid.
NASA scientists see the InSight lander’s mission to Mars as part of the path toward getting astronauts to the rusty planet.
InSight is designed to peer into Mars’ interior, learning more about the composition of the planet to help researchers on Earth find out more about how the rocky planets of the solar system formed, NASA said.
The lander also comes equipped with a seismometer to measure Martian quakes.
“Our next step in the journey to Mars is another fantastic mission to the surface,” Jim Green, NASA director of planetary science, said in a statement.
“By participating in this opportunity to send your name aboard InSight to the Red Planet, you’re showing that you’re part of that journey and the future of space exploration.”
Fill out a form to send your name to Mars with NASA through the agency’s website.