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Deadline Nears For Names To Fly On NASA’s Journey To Mars

Mission to explore interior of Red Planet scheduled to launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in 2016

People have until Sept. 8 to add their names to a silicon microchip headed to the Red Planet aboard NASA’s InSight Mars lander, set to launch in 2016.
People have until Sept. 8 to add their names to a silicon microchip headed to the Red Planet aboard NASA’s InSight Mars lander, set to launch in 2016. (NASA photo)

Time is counting down toward the Sept. 8 deadline to participate in NASA’s next Mars mission — yet remain earthbound — by flying your name on a spacecraft launching from Vandenberg Air Force Base.

People can participate in the mission by adding their names to a silicon microchip headed to the Red Planet aboard NASA's InSight Mars lander, set to launch in 2016.

"Our next step in the journey to Mars is another fantastic mission to the surface," said Jim Green, director of planetary science at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "By participating in this opportunity to send your name aboard InSight to the Red Planet, you're showing that you're part of that journey and the future of space exploration.”

The Mars lander’s has been dubbed InSight, which stands for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport

Marking Vandenberg’s first interplanetary mission, InSight will fly aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket set to lift off from Space Launch Complex-3 East in March 2016. 

The unmanned craft’s landing on Mars is scheduled for Sept. 28, 2016, to begin a two-year science mission, NASA said. 

People must submit names by 8:59 p.m. Sept. 8 (11:59 p.m. EDT). 

To send your name to Mars aboard InSight, click here.

As of Thursday evening, 574,681 “boarding passes” had been issues for the journey to Mars, according to NASA’s website.

NASA also is offering its fans a chance to earn “frequent flier” points to note a person’s participation in NASA’s journey to Mars, which the agency says will span multiple missions and many decades. 

The InSight mission offers the second opportunity for space exploration fans to collect points by flying their names aboard a NASA mission, with more opportunities to follow.

NASA says InSight will be the first mission dedicated to investigating the planet’s deep interior. 

The spacecraft will place the first seismometer directly on the surface of Mars to measure Martian quakes and use seismic waves to learn about the planet's interior, NASA said.

InSight also will deploy a self-hammering heat probe that will burrow deeper into the ground than any previous device on the Red Planet. 

Scientists say these and other InSight investigations will improve the understanding about the formation and evolution of all rocky planets, including Earth.

In December, the names of 1.38 million people flew on a chip aboard the first flight of NASA's Orion spacecraft aboard a Delta IV rocket that blasted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla.

Orion eventually will carry astronauts to deep space destinations including Mars and an asteroid, officials said.

After InSight, the next opportunity to earn frequent flier points will be NASA's Exploration Mission-1, the first planned test flight combining the Space Launch System rocket and Orion capsule to carry humans to Mars and beyond.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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