Your name can go to Mars, but you must act now

Members of the public have until 10:59 p.m. CT on Sept. 30 to get their names etched onto a microchip that will travel to Mars on NASA’s Mars 2020 rover mission. Those who sign up can get a souvenir boarding pass. (Source: NASA)
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(KSLA/Gray News) — Actor Brad Pitt and more than 10 million other people have signed up to have their names sent to Mars less than 300 days from now.

You too can submit your name, if you act before 10:59 p.m. Central on Monday, Sept. 30.

Sign up and your name will be etched onto a microchip that will ride to the red planet on NASA’s Mars 2020 rover.

The rover, which as yet is unnamed, is expected to launch next summer from Cape Canaveral, Fla., and reach Mars in February 2021.

As it stands, almost a fourth of the names on that microchip will be from Turkey. That’s right, Turkey.

Following is a breakdown of the number of names submitted worldwide as of Sunday, NASA says:

-Turkey 2,526,907
-India 1,666,555
-U.S. 1,342,871
-China 289,374
-Iran 285,240
-U.K. 268,397
-Indonesia 234,887
-S. Korea 200,207
-Israel 197,956
-Mexico 189,431
-Italy 178,654

And within the United States, California residents have shown the most interest in having their names sent to Mars, NASA says.

-California 221,617
-Texas 114,626
-Florida 99,765
-New York 68,364
-Illinois 44,405
-Pennsylvania 43,457
-Virginia 41,509
-Ohio 41,376
-New Jersey 38,934
-Washington 38,872
-Arizona 35,212
-North Carolina 33,501
-Georgia 33,382
-Michigan 32,819
-Colorado 29,229
-Massachusetts 28,785
-Maryland 24,934
-Tennessee 22,902
-Indiana 22,723
-Oregon 19,232
-Missouri 18,986
-Minnesota 18,755
-Alabama 18,729
-Wisconsin 17,919
-South Carolina 15,007
-Utah 14,768
-Connecticut 13,354
-Kentucky 13,335
-Nevada 13,256
-Louisiana 12,920
-Oklahoma 12,890
-Kansas 10,588
-Iowa 8,602
-Arkansas 8,238
-New Mexico 8,057
-Mississippi 6,601
-Idaho 6,459
-Nebraska 6,234
-West Virginia 5,641
-New Hampshire 5,380
-Hawaii 4,083
-Maine 4,024
-Rhode Island 3,882
-Montana 3,419
-Delaware 3,308
-D.C. 3,087
-Alaska 3,010
-Vermont 2,259
-South Dakota 2,124
-North Dakota 1,836
-Wyoming 1,529

Speaking of names, the Mars 2020 rover needs one.

And NASA is enlisting K-12 students in U.S. public, private and home schools to come up with one.

Students have until Nov. 1 to submit their proposed rover name along with an essay of up to 150 words explaining why their proposed name should be chosen.

NASA says the essays will be divided into three groups by grade level — K-4, 5-8, and 9-12 — and judged on the appropriateness, significance and originality of their proposed name, and the originality and quality of their essay, and/or finalist interview presentation.

Fifty-two semifinalists will be selected per group, each representing their respective state or U.S. territory. Three finalists then will be selected from each group to advance to the final round.

As part of the final selection process, the public will have an opportunity to vote online on the nine finalists in January.

NASA plans to announce the rover’s name Feb. 18, exactly a year before the rover will land on the Mars surface.

And whoever submitted the name will be invited to see the spacecraft launch in July.

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