Boarding Pass for NASA's Mars 2020 mission with the planet Mars in the background
Get your Boarding Pass for NASA's Mars 2020 mission and earn 313,586,649 frequent flyer miles. Credit: NASA.

Send your name to Mars

Backyard Adventures

Fun and easy mini-expeditions to help students and parents see the world with eyes of wonder.

ASSIGNMENT: Your adventure, should you choose to accept it, is to join Scott on his mission to the Red Planet — Mars. Finally! Scott has booked a trip to Mars. (It’s a little embarrassing but this isn’t Scott’s first attempt to go to Mars.) Well… really it is just his name etched in silicon that will be going to Mars on NASA’s 2020 Mars Rover, but everyone is welcome to send their name to Mars.

Details: Hurry! Submit your name for the Mars 2020 Mission by Sept. 30, 2019, to fly along! But, don’t worry if you are late because, starting this fall, students will also have the chance to rename the rover in the “Name the Rover” contest. And, even if you miss that, you can join NASA’s next mission to Mars.

More about this adventure: NASA’s Mars 2020 rover will look for signs of life in a region of Mars where the ancient environment is believed to have been favorable for microbial life. The rover launches next summer, July 2020 and lands February 2021. Part of the rover’s cargo will be millions of names laser-etched onto a microchip. Each line will be less than 0.1% the width of a human hair. Wow! That’s tiny. I hope the Martians have a magnifying glass.

Below is a video from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory showing an animated flyover of the Martian surface and the Jezero Crater. It explains why the crater, a 28-mile-wide ancient lake-delta system, is the best place for the Mars 2020 rover to find evidence of life. The rover will also collect samples for a possible return flight to Earth, though this mission hasn’t yet been planned. To learn more about the mission, please visit https://mars.nasa.gov/mars2020

How to be a real astronaut

Visit the NASA website to apply

Here are the basic requirements to be an astronaut per the official NASA website. As with any adventure, planning is a must — sometimes years of planning. Applicants to be an astronaut must meet the following minimum requirements before submitting an application. The following is reprinted from the NASA website and it may have changed.

Astronaut Candidate (Non-Piloting background)

  1. Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution in engineering, biological science, physical science, computer science or mathematics.
  2. Degree must be followed by at least 3 years of related, progressively responsible, professional experience or at least 1,000 pilot-in-command time in jet aircraft. An advanced degree is desirable and may be substituted for experience as follows: master’s degree = 1 year of experience, doctoral degree = 3 years of experience.  Teaching experience, including experience at the K – 12 levels, is considered to be qualifying experience for the Astronaut Candidate position; provided degree is in a Science, Engineering, or Mathematics field.
  3. Ability to pass the NASA long-duration Astronaut physical, which includes the following specific requirements:
    • Distant and near visual acuity must be correctable to 20/20, each eye. The use of glasses is acceptable.
    • Since all crewmembers will be expected to fly aboard a specific spacecraft vehicle and perform Extravehicular Activities (spacewalks), applicants must meet the anthropometric requirements for both the specific vehicle and the extravehicular activity mobility unit (space suit). Applicants brought in for an interview will be evaluated to ensure they meet the anthropometric requirements.

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