Posted on November 3, 2020
I have always been a fan when it comes to space, space travel, astrophotography, and the awe-inspiring vastness of space. I think NASA is a fantastic effort for society and the world to rally behind. Everyone by now has heard or watched Star Wars and/or Star Trek; whichever side you have sworn allegiance, the concept of space travel and exploration is fascinating to many. Plenty of us grew up watching one or more of the Star Trek series; personally, I grew up watching Star Trek Next Generation (the best series imho) with my dad, and as an adult, I read the Star Wars books; I have also watched the movies (4-6 again, the best set, and I have it on good authority that is more fact than opinion).
I have been following Mars exploration for many, many years now. I watched the IMAX documentary Moving Mars back in 2006 about Earthbound NASA scientists that explore the surface of Mars via the transmissions of two robotic rovers named Spirit and Opportunity, which was excellent but I knew about Spirit and Opportunity well before the documentary came out. Now I keep up with the latest missions via NASA’s website and live feeds.
I think NASA has done a great justice to the public with creating interest in Mars missions by making them personal and the data and pictures they collect readily available. This last mission launched June 2020 was the Perseverance rover and I was able to get my name sent up on a plaque. It lands February 2021 and I will be watching. Expanding past just scientist and schools, they allowed the Geocaching community put a tracker on the rover as well; so when it lands there will be an opportunity to log a Mars cache, the first one ever. By putting the public names and common interests on the rover, I believe there are many more invested in the mission than before that want to see it play out.
I will put my name up on Mars as many times possible, I think it’s a cool way to follow the mission and be a part of it when normally I would only be a bystander. NASA has opened enrollment for the next mission in 2026, and I highly recommend putting your name on the next one if you have not already signed up for it. You can sign up here.