NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover will be carrying more than 10.9 million names when it launches from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station this summer on its voyage towards Jezero Crater, where it’s expected to land on February 18, 2021.
NASA confirmed on Thursday that 10,932,295 monikers and 155 essays had been etched onto a microchip aboard the rover in response to the ‘Send Your Name to Mars’ campaign, which invited people around the world to submit names and articles to ride aboard the agency’s next rover to the Red Planet.
I also carry a special message — can you find it? pic.twitter.com/5UNgBWeEET
— NASA’s Perseverance Mars Rover (@NASAPersevere) March 26, 2020
The successful entries were stencilled by electron beam onto three fingernail-sized silicon chips, which were then attached to an aluminium plate affixed to the centre of the rover’s aft crossbeam at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on March 16, 2020.
The chips were joined on the plate by a graphic of the Earth, Sun and Mars. “While commemorating the rover that connects the two worlds, the simple illustration also pays tribute to the elegant line art of the plaques aboard the Pioneer spacecraft and golden records carried by Voyagers 1 and 2,” NASA said in a statement.
According to NASA, the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has not yet affected the launch schedule of the Mars Perseverance rover. In fact, the team recently started to reconfigure the rover to ride atop the Atlas V rocket ahead of its launch from the facility near to Kennedy Space Center on July 17, 2020.
Upon reaching the Red Planet, the Perseverance rover will reportedly search for signs of past microbial life on the planet, characterize its climate and geology, and collect samples of the rocky terrain to bring back to Earth in an effort to pave the way for human exploration of Mars in the future.
[widget path=”global/article/imagegallery” parameters=”albumSlug=the-25-best-sci-fi-movies&captions=true”]
For other exciting space discoveries and developments, check out the new method MIT engineers have identified to deflect asteroids, read about the mini-moon that was found to be orbiting Earth, and find out more about the sad fate that an asteroid belt may face in six billion years.