NASA’s Europa Clipper spacecraft is offering a unique opportunity for the public to leave their mark on history. Through a campaign called “Message in a Bottle,” individuals can have their names stenciled onto a microchip that will be sent to Jupiter’s moon Europa. The deadline for name submissions is December 31, 2023, and already, approximately 700,000 names have been received with expectations of more before the cut-off.
Technicians at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory will use an electron beam to delicately engrave the names onto a dime-size silicon microchip. Each line of text will be smaller than 1/1000th the width of a human hair. The microchip will be securely attached to a metal plate engraved with a captivating poem titled “In Praise of Mystery,” penned by none other than U.S. Poet Laureate Ada Limón.
But what’s the purpose of this mission? The Europa Clipper spacecraft, carrying the poem and the names of the participants, will conduct around 50 close flybys of Europa’s ocean world during its mission. The primary objective is to gather crucial data on Europa’s subsurface ocean, icy crust, and atmosphere. Scientists hope that the information collected will provide insights into whether or not Europa could potentially support life.
Excitingly, the completed Europa Clipper spacecraft will be transported to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida for its scheduled launch in October 2024.
The “Message in a Bottle” campaign serves a larger purpose beyond merely adding names to a microchip. It is a continuation of NASA’s tradition of sending inspirational messages on spacecraft, aiming to inspire and engage people worldwide. Participants in the campaign can also create and download a personalized souvenir, featuring their name on a message in a bottle against a stunning rendering of Europa and its host planet, Jupiter.
Ultimately, the Europa Clipper mission seeks to better understand the icy moon’s composition, the thickness of its shell, and its unique geology. By delving into the mysteries of Europa, scientists hope to gain insights into the potential for habitable worlds beyond our own.
So, if you’ve ever dreamt of having your name travel to an alien moon, now is your chance. Join the “Message in a Bottle” campaign and become a part of this awe-inspiring mission to Europa.
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