Wednesday, May 1, 2013

You may not be able to go to Mars, but NASA wants to send your name there

You may not be able to go to Mars, but NASA wants to send your name there, In November, NASA will be launching a new spacecraft to the red planet, Mars. The spacecraft, know as the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution (MAVEN) spacecraft will carry specialized equipment that will be used to study the upper atmosphere of Mars. It will also carry with it a special DVD.

NASA announced on May 1, that they are inviting the public to submit their names to be a part of this special experience. They are also asking for people to submit a special message, in the form of a three line haiku, if they so desire. All names submitted will be loaded onto the DVD, but only the three best haiku will be sent on the mission. The submission deadline for names and messages is July 1, 2013 and there will be a public vote for the best messages starting on July 15, 2013.

The DVD is a part of the Going to Mars campaign, created for this mission and coordinated at the University of Colorado at Boulder's Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (CU/LASP). Stephanie Renfrow, lead for the MAVEN education and public outreach program at CU/LASP said:

"The Going to Mars campaign offers people worldwide a way to make a personal connection to space, space exploration, and science in general and share in our excitement about the MAVEN mission."

Bruce Jakosky, MAVEN principal investigator from CU/LASP added:

"This new campaign is a great opportunity to reach the next generation of explorers and excite them about science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). I look forward to sharing our science with the worldwide community as MAVEN begins to piece together what happened to the Red Planet's atmosphere."

MAVEN represents the first time we have sent a spacecraft to study the upper Martian atmosphere. It will investigate and explore in an effort to determine how the loss of atmosphere to space determined the history of water on the surface of Mars.

Speaking of the mission, David Mitchell, MAVEN project manager at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD said:

"The mission will continue NASA's rich history of inspiring and engaging the public in spaceflight in ongoing Mars exploration."

Participants in the program will also be able to print out a special certificate of appreciation that recognizes their involvement in the Going to Mars campaign portion of the MAVEN mission. Those interested in submitting their names can do so by following this link. This is not the first time that NASA has sent names into space. Previous missions carried names to the moon, a comet and to the surface of Mars with the Curiosity rover.

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