Names to travel to asteroid on NASA trip

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16 Jan 2019

NASA has put out a call to people around the world who fancy a trip to an asteroid, if only in name.

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The US space agency on Wednesday said it was inviting people to submit their names to be etched on a microchip that will be placed aboard a spacecraft headed to the asteroid Bennu in 2016.

The microchip will travel to Bennu aboard NASA’s Origins-Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft.

People who would like to participate should submit their name free of charge at the website planetary.org/bennu no later than September 30.

Afterward they will be able to download and print a certificate documenting their participation in the OSIRIS-REx mission.

“You’ll be part of humankind’s exploration of the solar system – how cool is that?” said Bill Nye, chief executive officer of the Planetary Society, the organisation processing the entries.

In addition, participants who follow or like the mission on Facebook will receive updates on the location of their name in space from launch time until the capsule returns to earth in 2023.

The mission will spend more than two years at the 500-metre-wide asteroid and will collect a sample of Bennu’s surface and return it to earth.

Once the sample capsule deploys, the spacecraft will be placed into a long-term solar orbit around the sun, along with the microchip and every name on it, NASA said.

The mission’s goals are to address basic questions about the composition of the very early solar system and to better predict the orbits of asteroids that pose a threat to the earth.

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