NASA has successfully included over 10.9 million names to its latest rover that was designed to explore Mars. According to NASA, the upcoming mission will still proceed as planned as it has not yet been affected by the current COVID-19 outbreak.
The agency’s newest robotic rover is called Perseverance. It will spearhead NASA’s upcoming mission to the Red Planet this year.
Last year, NASA launched a campaign that provided members of the public with the opportunity to launch their names to Mars. Throughout the course of the campaign, a total of 10,932,295 submitted their names.
NASA then took these names and used an electron beam to stencil them onto three silicon chips that are about as big as a fingernail. These chips were then mounted on an anodized plate that was attached to Perseverance’s aft crossbeam.
Aside from the names, NASA also included stenciled versions of 155 finalist essays that were submitted during the agency’s Name the Rover contest.
NASA noted that the anodized plate features a laser-etched graphic of Mars and Earth joined together by the beams of light emitted by a star. According to the agency, this design has a special meaning since it pays tribute to past missions.
“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,” NASA stated. “Affixed to the center of the rover’s aft crossbeam, the plate will be visible to cameras on Perseverance’s mast.”
The Perseverance rover is scheduled to launch via the Mars 2020 mission on July 17. For the mission, the robotic rover will be placed aboard the Atlas V rocket. The rover is expected to reach Mars on Feb. 18, 2021. It will focus on investigating the Jezero crater for possible signs of life.
According to NASA, the schedule of the mission’s launch has not yet been affected by the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, which means the agency will most likely proceed with the event in July. In the past couple of weeks, NASA has already implemented telecommuting operations for its employees after confirmed cases of COVID-19 emerged in two of its facilities.