Fly your name to Mars aboard NASA’s next mission

Washington, Aug 19 (IANS) Mars enthusiasts around the world can send their name to the Red Planet aboard NASA’s InSight Mars lander which is scheduled to be launched next year.

As part of its “fly-your-name” initiative, NASA will adds thousands of names to a silicon microchip headed to the Red Planet.

“Our next step in the journey to Mars is another fantastic mission to the surface,” said Jim Green, director of planetary science at NASA headquarters in Washington, DC.

“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,” he said in a statement.

Submissions, available on NASA website, will be accepted till September 8.

The “fly-your-name” opportunity comes with “frequent flier” points to reflect an individual’s personal participation in NASA’s journey to Mars, which will span multiple missions and multiple decades.

The InSight mission offers the second such opportunity for space exploration fans to collect points by flying their names aboard a NASA mission, with more opportunities to follow.

Last December, the names of 1.38 million people flew on a chip aboard the first flight of NASA’s Orion spacecraft, which will carry astronauts to deep space destinations including Mars and an asteroid.

After InSight, the next opportunity to earn frequent flier points will be NASA’s Exploration Mission-1 — the first planned test flight bringing together the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket and Orion capsule in preparation for human missions to Mars and beyond.

InSight will be launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, in March 2016 and land on Mars on September 28, 2016.

The mission is the first dedicated to the investigation of the deep interior of the planet.

It will place the first seismometer directly on the surface of Mars to measure Martian quakes and use seismic waves to learn about the planet’s interior.

It also will deploy a self-hammering heat probe that will burrow deeper into the ground than any previous device on the Red Planet.

“These and other InSight investigations will improve our understanding about the formation and evolution of all rocky planets, including Earth,” the US space agency said.

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