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Send your name to the moon through NASA's VIPER rover—here's how

By Yoniel Acebuche Published Feb 15, 2024 7:47 pm

Sing your heart out to Count Basie and Frank Sinatra's Fly Me to the Moon as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) invites everyone to send their name to the moon and be "part of lunar history via the VIPER rover." 

This came to light as Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (VIPER), the agency's first robotic Moon rover, aims "to explore the permanently shadowed lunar South Pole." 

According to its Instagram post, its mission gears up for late 2024, when it will work "to unravel the mysteries of the moon's water and begin resource mapping this celestial body" on a 100-day mission. 

On its website, the agency said that VIPER's critical information will pave the way for information about the origin and distribution of water on the moon and help determine "how we can harvest the Moon's resources for future human space exploration." 

In addition, NASA's Artemis missions—which seek to establish a permanent presence on the moon—will benefit significantly from creating the first Moon resource maps. NASA gathered crucial data through previous missions, such as satellites orbiting the moon or impacting its surface, including the discovery that "there is ice at the lunar poles." 

The rover will endure extreme temperature conditions, dynamic lighting, and complex terrain during VIPER's moon exploration. In contrast, near-real-time rover driving will present new engineering and design challenges the team must overcome.

How to join the fun? 

In regards to this, NASA opened their "boarding gate" for anyone who wants their name sent to the moon.

To join, go to NASA's website. Fill out the necessary information, such as your first name, last name, and a security code. You can submit it from there and save your boarding pass like this one. 

Sample boarding pass

As of writing, 493,992 boarding passes have been claimed. 

In 2014, more than 1.3 million submitted their boarding pass on NASA's dime-sized microchip to destinations beyond low-Earth orbit, including Mars. This is because the agency's Orion spacecraft was launched on Dec. 4 for Orion's flight test.