Sent your name to Mars? Yours might not be included yet in NASA Perseverance rover’s historic landing

February 19, 2021 - 3:15 PM
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Members of NASA’s Perseverance rover team react in mission control after receiving confirmation the spacecraft successfully touched down on Mars, at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, U.S. February 18, 2021. (NASA/Bill Ingalls/Handout via Reuters)

If you have submitted your name to “join” the flight of National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Perseverance Rover to Mars, your name may not arrive to the red planet yet.

In a countdown live-streamed online, social media users across the world witnessed how the team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California erupted in cheers after the rover successfully landed at the red planet at 3:55 p.m. ET Thursday or Friday, in our time zone, February 19.

NASA also confirmed that Perseverance or “Percy,” considered as the most advanced spacecraft to date, sent the first images of the landing site after touchdown.

They showed that the rover landed at an area on Mars called the Jezero Crater.

One of the images was posted at Perseverance’s official Twitter.

“Hello, world. My first look at my forever home. #CountdownToMars,” read the tweet.

NASA launched the Mars 2020 mission on July 30, 2020 from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. It traveled for 203 days and traversed 293 million miles (472 million kilometers).

Aside from such scientific breakthrough, this mission is also symbolic as it carries nearly 11 million names of human beings on Earth and a plaque that commemorates health workers.

Sending names to Mars

In a campaign called “Send Your Name to Mars,” NASA collected a total of 10,932,295 from people who hoped to “join” the flight to the red planet in 2020.

Based on the website, 69,995 were from the Philippines.

The “names” were carried or stored into three silicon chips which were attached to Perseverance.

READ: #CountdownToMars: Filipinos anticipate historic launch of Mars rover for space mission

NASA screenshot of the accomplished campaign for the Mars 2020 mission retrieved on February 19, 2021

NASA gave those who signed up “boarding passes” to indicate they were reserved.

However, not all those who signed up became part of the 2020 journey.

Some Filipinos accidentally sent their names to the next flight called “Future Mission” in 2026. Reservations are still open for this one.

As of writing, a total of 2,189,219 Filipinos have signed up for the 2026 mission.

NASA screenshot of the campaign for the Mars 2026 mission retrieved on February 19, 2021

To know if you are part of Perseverance’s flight last year, the scheduled departure in your NASA boarding pass should indicate July 2020.

Plaque to health workers and essays

Aside from names, science organization Earth Shaker also stated that the rover also carried a plaque to commemorate the hard work of health workers who are on the frontline against COVID-19.

 

Moreover, it also contained 155 essays from students who participated in the contest that gave the spacecraft its unique name.

“Seventh-grader Alexander Mather submitted the winning entry and named the rover Perseverance, reflecting courage to explore beyond despite many challenges,” the post read.

“Attached to Perseverance is another plaque featuring a snake-entwined rod to symbolize medicine and health. The commemorative was placed in May 2020 to pay tribute to the health workers who persevered in times of the COVID-19 pandemic,” it added.

Celebrations 

Perseverance will now embark on its primary task of searching signs of life on the planet.

“The Mars 2020 Perseverance mission embodies our nation’s spirit of persevering even in the most challenging of situations, inspiring, and advancing science and exploration. The mission itself personifies the human ideal of persevering toward the future and will help us prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet,” said acting NASA Administrator Steve Jurczyk.

Filipinos also joined in the celebration of the rover’s successful landing on Mars.

The hashtags #CountdownToMars and #Mars2020, along with the words “Perseverance” and “NASA” dominated Twitter conversations on Friday morning.

GMA journalists also husband and wife Raffy Tima and Mariz Umali-Tima were among those whose names were included in the Perseverance rover’s mission.