NASA is giving all of us a chance to board the InSight mission to Mars departing in 201 — or at least our name. The good ship/rover is scheduled to land on the section of Mars known as Elysium Planitia (Plain of Ideal Happiness) on September 20, 2016, and today is the last day to log your name onto a computer chip that will blast off with it from Vandenberg Air Station in California on March 3, 2016.
As of press time, there were 757,584 names uploaded to the chip. The cost of planting your name on the chip is free, and you get this handy-looking “boarding pass” featuring your name, destination, and “awards points earned” from the 297,805,305 mile trip that you can save or share on social media.
Before you scoff, consider what the future could hold. If (and when) mankind colonizes Mars, your name, stored on this chip and cached somewhere on the Red Planet’s surface, could reach a future relative. Signing up records your ZIP code, giving your (theoretical) future relatives an idea of where you once lived. It’s like NASA meets Ellis Island (or Ancestry.com).
The InSight Rover is scheduled to conduct geophysical experimentation on Mars, testing “pulse,” or internal activity of the Red Planet; internal temperature; and the way the planet wobbles when it is pulled by the Sun and its moons.
What InSight reveals about what’s below the surface of Mars and how it behaves cosmically could be integral to plotting a colony’s success.