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NASA Invites Millions on the Next Mars Mission

Newser — Neal Colgrass

Giddy-up, you're going to Mars—or your name is, if you're up for it. NASA is offering to take a huge list of names on board the Mars 2020 rover's life-hunting trip, Space.com reports.

The space agency will let anyone sign up and "share in this journey of exploration," which is slated to land inside the planet's Jezero Crater in February 2021 and analyze the geology, seek underground water-ice, and look for signs of long-extinct life.

The names will be etched onto a microchip in lines of text thinner than 0.1% of a human hair.

The chip can fit roughly a million names, so another one may be needed if Mars 2020 matches the NASA Insight trip to Mars in 2018, which carried over two million names.

Those who join for 2020 will also receive a souvenir Mars "boarding pass" and NASA "frequent flyer" points based on the number of miles flown; signers on Insight got about 300 million frequent flyer miles.

Apropos names, NASA is asking students to come up with one for the rover itself. The last rover, "Curiosity," was named by a Kansas sixth-grader. Here's the Mars 2020 sign-up form.

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