Participants can sign up on the campaign page until Monday, Sept. 30, adding their names to the silicon chip that will travel under a glass plate on the Mars 2020 rover. The chip can hold lines "smaller than one-thousandth the width of a human hair," according to a NASA press release, with a chip the size of a dime able to hold millions of names. An image of the chip will be uploaded to the mission website once it is installed in the rover.
Nearly 10 million names have been added to the list, already surpassing the over 2 million names that were on the InSight spacecraft to Mars last year. As of Saturday, September 28, Turkey was the country that had submitted the most names at over 2,500,000, followed by India and the United States with over 1,570,000 and 1,250,000 respectively.
Besides bearing the names of millions of people on Earth, the 2,300-pound rover, which may launch as early as July 2020, is expected to reach Mars in February 2021. It will search for signs of past life and collect samples before returning to its home planet. This upcoming mission will also prepare NASA to send astronauts to explore Mars.
"As we get ready to launch this historic Mars mission, we want everyone to share in this journey of exploration," said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in the press release. "It's an exciting time for NASA as we embark on this voyage to answer profound questions about our neighboring planet, and even the origins of life itself."
The space exploration agency has been charged to place astronauts on the Moon by 2024 and establish a "sustained human presence on and around the Moon" by 2028, according to the press release.
Those who add their name to the list will also receive a printable "boarding pass" with their name and the launch and arrival sites of the mission. Participants who submit their email address can also collect "frequent flyer" points for each NASA mission they "join," which will earn digital mission patches.
To add your name to the list, visit https://go.nasa.gov/Mars2020Pass.
Though submitting a name to the misison is open to all, naming the rover itself is a chance available only to United States children. Students in grades K-12 can enter the contest, open until Nov. 1, at https://mars.nasa.gov/mars2020/participate/name-the-rover.