NASA's Perseverance to carry 10.9 million names to Mars this summer

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10.9 million names to travel with NASA's Perseverance Mars rover
10.9 million names to travel with NASA's Perseverance Mars rover

New Delhi : Over 10.9 million names will be sent to Mars after NASA, under "Send Your Name to Mars" campaign, asked people around the world to submit their names to ride aboard the agency's next rover to the Red Planet.

The names have been stenciled by electron beam onto three fingernail-sized silicon chips, along with the essays of the 155 finalists in NASA's "veName the Ror" contest. The chips have been attached to an aluminium plate on NASA's Perseverance Mars rover at Kennedy Space Center in Florida on March 16.

The rover has been scheduled to blast off from Earth in summer and it is expected to land on Mars on February 18, 2021.

The three chips will be planted on an anodized plate with a laser-etched graphic depicting Earth and Mars joined by the star that gives light to both. Affixed to the centre of the rover's aft crossbeam, the plate will be visible to cameras on Perseverance's mast.

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.

There are reports that NASA has suspended its Moon mission amid the coronavirus outbreak across the world, there are no reports on change of launch schedule of the Mars Perseverance rover. 

On March 21, the team began reconfiguring the rover so it can ride atop the Atlas V rocket. Steps included stowing the robotic arm, lowering and locking in place the remote sensing mast and high-gain antenna, and retracting its legs and wheels.

The Perseverance rover is a robotic scientist weighing just under 2,300 pounds (1,043 kilograms). It will search for signs of past microbial life, characterize Mars' climate and geology, collect samples for a future return to Earth, and help pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet.