Send Your Name and Message to Mars! NASA Invites Public to the Red Planet
You may not be able to journey to Mars yourself, but your message sure can. NASA is inviting members of the public to submit their names and a personal message online for a DVD that will be carried aboard a spacecraft that will study the upper atmosphere of the Red Planet.
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The spacecraft itself is called the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Eruption (MAVEN) spacecraft. It's currently scheduled for launch in November, and will be devoted to exploring the Martian atmosphere. More specifically, it will investigate how the loss of Mars' atmosphere to space determined the history of water on its surface. This could lead to further clues as to how water developed on the surface of Earth or on other planets.
"The new campaign is a great opportunity to reach the next generation of explorers and excite them about science, technology, engineering and math," said Bruce Jakosky, MAVEN principal investigator, in a news release. "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.
So why would a spacecraft devoted to studying the atmosphere be carrying a DVD to Mars? It's part of an increasing effort to get the public involved with NASA's missions into space. That's all the more important considering the budget cuts that the space agency has been experiencing. In fact, due to a cut of the budget for the Commercial Crew program, the agency has had to shell out $424 million for the use of the Russian Soyuz spacecraft to ferry astronauts to space. The program would have funded private companies so that they could more quickly develop American spacecraft, but now NASA must face the fact that it currently has no fleet of ships to take astronauts to space.
The DVD itself will carry every name that is submitted to the space agency, but will only carry three personal messages. These messages must be in the form of a three-line poem, or haiku.
"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," said Stephanie Renfrow, lead for the MAVEN Education and Public Outreach program at CU/LASP, in a news release.
Want to send your name to space or try your hand at a poem? You can submit your name and message to Mars here.