December 27, 2023: In an extraordinary opportunity, NASA’s Europa Clipper mission is offering space enthusiasts a chance to send their names on a microchip that will journey aboard the spacecraft as it explores Jupiter’s fascinating moon. This unique initiative, aptly named the “Message in a Bottle” campaign, allows participants to have their names etched onto a coin-sized microchip, creating a cosmic keepsake that will soar through space.
Already, hundreds of thousands of names have been submitted for inclusion in this celestial voyage. However, time is of the essence for those who wish to participate, as NASA is accepting names until 11.59 PM EST on December 31 (10.29 AM IST on January 1, 2024). After the submission period concludes, technicians at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California will use an electron beam to stencil the names onto the microchip, with each line of text measuring a mere 75 nanometres – a fraction of the width of a human hair.
Following this intricate process, the microchip will be affixed to a metal plate engraved with the poem “In Praise of Mystery” by American poet Ada Limon. This poetry, along with the names of space enthusiasts, will serve as a metaphorical “message in a bottle” as the Europa Clipper spacecraft completes nearly 50 flybys of Jupiter’s moon Europa.
To become part of this cosmic journey, individuals can sign up and submit their names at europa.nasa.gov/message-in-a-bottle/sign-on/. As a bonus, participants can read the inspiring poem and even download a customizable electronic souvenir – an illustration featuring their name on a message in a bottle set against the backdrop of Europa and Jupiter.
Jupiter’s moon Europa, known for its vast subsurface ocean beneath an icy shell, has captured the fascination of astrobiologists. The Europa Clipper mission aims to conduct an in-depth exploration, investigating whether the moon provides suitable conditions for sustaining life. With the potential for intriguing chemical reactions in its liquid water ocean, Europa is considered one of the solar system’s prime candidates for hosting alien life.
By participating in NASA’s “Message in a Bottle” campaign, space enthusiasts not only contribute their names to this historic mission but also become part of the quest to unravel the mysteries of Europa and advance our understanding of astrobiology. It’s a unique opportunity to make a cosmic mark and join the journey to the outer realms of our solar system.