NASA is sending a list of names to Jupiter in its latest 'message in a bottle' tradition - how to add your name

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NASA is planning to send the spacecraft in October 2024

In October 2024, the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is planning to launch a spacecraft to Europa, one of Jupiter’s many moons, and your name can be on board. 

Aboard the craft will be a microchip with a poem by US Poet Laureate Ada Limón, and NASA is inviting people to add their name to the end of the poem. The space agency has likened it to sending a message in a bottle, but the message will be on a microchip and it will travel in a highly- sophisticated spacecraft almost the size of a basketball court. 

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So what is the poem that will be sent to Europa, how can you add your name and what is the mission about? Here is everything you need to know. 

NASA file composite image shows the Jovian system, including the edge of Jupiter with its Great Red Spot, and Jupiter’s moons (Photo: NASA/AFP via Getty Images)NASA file composite image shows the Jovian system, including the edge of Jupiter with its Great Red Spot, and Jupiter’s moons (Photo: NASA/AFP via Getty Images)
NASA file composite image shows the Jovian system, including the edge of Jupiter with its Great Red Spot, and Jupiter’s moons (Photo: NASA/AFP via Getty Images) | NASA/AFP via Getty Images

How to add your name to their Jupiter mission? 

Since the message was available to sign, around 206,911 people have added their names since 1 June 2023. Around 6,439 people have signed the message from the United Kingdom, 56,642 people have signed it from the US, and 9,972 names have signed it from Australia. 

You can add your name online in a few seconds. On NASA’s Europa website, add in your first name and your surname, your location, state and postal code. Adding your email is optional, and it is if you want to sign up for NASA’s email newsletter. 

When you have submitted your name, you will receive an image of your name on a piece of string-tied, rolled paper on a corked glass bottle with Europa’s icy surface in the foreground. Jupiter will feature in the background. You can download the image for free, directly or via the email you will receive. 

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“‘Message in a Bottle’ is the perfect convergence of science, art, and technology, and we are excited to share with the world the opportunity to be a part of Europa Clipper’s journey,” Dr. Nicola Fox, who is the associate administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington DC, said in the announcement. “I just love the thought that our names will be traveling across our solar system aboard the radiation-tolerant spacecraft that seeks to unlock the secrets of Jupiter’s frozen moon.” 

What is NASA’s Jupiter mission for? 

The purpose of the mission is to collect data about one of Jupiter’s moons to see if it has conditions suitable for life. The unmanned Europa Clipper spacecraft will start its journey of 2.6 billion kilometres towards Jupiter in October 2024. 

It’s due to arrive in April 2020, and it should orbit out of Jupiter to perform close flybys of its icy moon - Europa. The reason Europa was chosen was due to it being among one of the most promising environments to sustain life in our solar system. 

It has a crust around 15-25 kilometres thick, and it is believed the moon has an ocean underneath the layer of ice containing more than twice Earth's amount of water. To generate public interest, NASA has also installed a ‘Clipper Cam’ where anyone can watch the work undertaken to create the spacecraft that will be sent to Jupiter. Currently, assembly is now underway and it can be viewed here

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