Mars has always been a fascinating area of research for scientists. For years, attempts have been made to uncover the enigma, of what lies beneath all those crimson layers and among the crevices of the Red Planet.

One such attempt to further investigate the nooks and corners of the planet, comes from the recent launch of NASA’s InSight (Interior Explorations Using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport) mission to Mars.

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The InSight Lander

The Mission

The mission took off from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 4:05 am PDT on Saturday, May 5th, 2018. The mission is essentially a mechanical device which will behave as an automated geologist in order to understand the underlying mysteries of Mars.

It will land in a place called Elysium Planitia and is estimated to land around 26th November 2018.

A visit to Mars?

However, these aren’t the most interesting things about the mission. In 2015 and then once again in 2017, people from all over the globe, were called upon, to submit their names, for them to be sent to Mars. People had to register themselves in advance for their names to be sent.

The principal investigator of the mission, Bruce Banerdt said, “This opportunity, lets them be a part of the spacecraft that will study the inside of the Red Planet.”

The Process

In 2015, NASA had given a global call, asking people to submit their names to be sent to Mars. Around 8,27,000 names were submitted.

In 2017, once again, a call was given for the same and around 16 lakh people signed up for the mission this time. The total number of people who therefore signed up, were around 24,29,807.

Out of this, the maximum number of people signed up from USA – 6,76,773 followed by China – 2,62,752 and then India – 1,38,899.

All the names submitted in 2015, were etched into a silicone microchip which was attached to the lander. The second set of names were etched in another chip, which was added to the lander later on.

All 24,29,807 people who signed up, were given a virtual boarding pass (which they could print) from NASA for their ‘visit’ to Mars.

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InSight NASA silicone chip

Also Read: This 21st Century Society Believes That The Earth Is Flat And We Are Being Tricked Into Thinking Otherwise

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Virtual boarding pass (printable)

The set of names includes adults as well as children. A number of school kids from the USA have given their names to be sent and are seen holding their ‘boarding passes’.

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Students with NASA InSight boarding pass

Among the 1,38,899 is india’s very own 9 – year old Pratik G.K. from Chennai.

He was part of the Chennai based Space Kidz India. He along with many others will perhaps remain immortal on Mars as the chips will remain there forever.

Others ‘onboard’ include actor William Shatner, NASA InSight project manager Tom Hoffman, principal investigator Bruce Banerdt and associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Thomas Zurbuchen.

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William Shatner’s virtual boarding pass for InSight

This is a one of a kind experiment, in order to understand the complexities that lie in planetary bodies like Mars. It surely wouldn’t be the last, as a number of labyrinths regarding the functioning of the universe are yet to be uncovered.


Sources: The Hindu, Times Of India, Indian Express +more

Image source: Google Images, NASA website


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