Mars Perseverance Allows People To Send Their Names to Mars

Samantha Elkins, Multimedia Video Editor

On Feb. 18, 2021, NASA’s Perseverance rover landed safely on Mars to explore the planet’s climate, prepare for human exploration and determine if life exists on Mars, all while bringing nearly 11 million names on the journey. 

NASA “Send Your Name to Mars” campaign allowed millions of people to submit their names for Perseverance to bring on its mission. NASA also held a “Name the Rover” essay contest, which received over 28,000 entries from K-12 students. From Virginia, seventh-grader Alexander Mathers’s winning essay which describes why he named the rover ‘Perseverance’ joined the 11 million names stenciled onto the chip.

Engineers stenciled the names onto three chips, located on the crossbeam, surrounded by artwork depicting the Earth and Mars, joined by a star shining light onto both. To write the names, engineers used an “E-beam” which allows them to stencil names the size of 1 micron. For reference, the length of a human hair measures approximately 70 microns. 

Although the official list of all the names stenciled on the chip remains private, those who submitted their name did receive a boarding pass from NASA. 

Many people heard about the campaign only after the Perseverance rover had already launched. After hearing that, many felt upset they missed their chance to send their name to space, so NASA re-started the campaign. While NASA has not revealed the date of their next mission to Mars, one can submit their name now.

Those who choose to include their email in their submission become “frequent flyers.” NASA issues collectable mission patches for frequent flyers and one can keep track of all the missions they have taken part in through the program.

Many heard the news and posted about it on the social media platform TikTok, further spreading the campaign’s popularity.  Those who decided to send their name often chose to do so with their best friend’s or significant other’s name. All the videos highlight the idea that it remains possible to travel to space with a loved one, even if just their names go on the journey.