NASA has yet to announce the name of its new 2020 Mars Rover, but it could be carrying your name all the way to Mars! NASA has invited the public to submit their own name to the agency by September 30, 2019, so that it can be engraved into a chip and affixed to the new Rover by its launch date in July 2020. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory will etch each name onto a silicon chip using an electron beam. Each line of text on the chip will be 1/1000th of the width of a human hair. This way, NASA can fit up to one million names onto an area the size of a dime. Participants will receive a digital souvenir “boarding pass” for a trip to Mars on the 2020 Rover. They will also be assigned “frequent flyer miles” to apply to a future trip to space. This is all a part of NASA’s public engagement campaign that it launched in order to highlight the upcoming missions to the Moon and Mars.
The Rover will weigh more than 2,300 pounds when it descends into the Jezero Crater on Mars. The Jezero Crater is a deep and wide crater which scientists believe has a rich clay bottom and may have held water in the past. Part of the Mars 2020 Rover’s mission will be to collect soil samples from this crater and other locations, as well as investigate the planet for signs of life. Most importantly, the Rover will help answer scientist’s questions about the Martian environment so that we can be better prepared to send Astronaut explorers to the planet in the near future.
The announcement of this new Rover mission comes after Opportunity Rover, one of NASA’s most successful missions, finally sent out its last signal to Earth in the summer of 2018. Opportunity Rover had been an occupant of the Red Planet since 2004. There, it gathered valuable information and outlived its operating plan by 14 years and 46 days. It entered hibernation on June 12, 2018 in order to wait out a dust storm. Over the course of the storm, Opportunity Rover, also known as “Oppy”, was unable to clear off its solar panels and recharge.
Getting the new 2020 Rover off the ground has proven to be a global effort. NASA received 58 proposals from scientists all over the world advocating for specific equipment to be on board the spacecraft. They decided on 7 carefully selected instruments to take on and conduct experiments with. Government, private, and international partners are working together with NASA to reach their goal of bringing man to Mars. This new 2020 Rover will be a large step in that direction. If you’d like your name to be taken to Mars, go to: