Have you ever dreamed of going to space?
Well, now part of you can, through NASA’s Message in a Bottle campaign.
Since June 1, 2023, NASA has been collecting names to send up to space on the Europa Clipper spacecraft.
Ever since the campaign kicked off, there have been more than 900,000 names collected from submissions from all around the world.
The Europa Clipper spacecraft is set to take off from the Kennedy Space Center in October 2024.
After its launch, the spacecraft will begin a 1.8 billion-mile journey to explore Jupiter’s moon, Europa.
Europa is known as an “ocean world that may support life,” according to NASA’s website.
The spacecraft will spend many years orbiting the moon to gather more information about the oceans that are believed to be under the moon’s icy surface. By 2030, the spacecraft is to enter orbit around Jupiter and conduct dozens of Europa flybys in the years that follow, according to NASA.
The spacecraft is expected to gather measurements that will help determine if the moon is suitable for life.
The Message in a Bottle campaign is a special collaboration between NASA, the Library of Congress and U.S. poet laureate Ada Limón.
On the spacecraft there will be a poem written by Limón called “In Praise of Mystery: A Poem from Europa.” Along with the poem will be all the names submitted by those from around the world. Each line of names will be 75 nanometers.
For comparison, that is 1/1000 the width of a human hair, according to NASA. These names will be stenciled into microchips that will be part of the spacecraft.
Submitting your name to be sent into space is a very easy process. All you have to do is visit NASA’s web page dedicated to this campaign. You’ll be asked to enter your first and last name, email, country, state and zip code.
Why have more than 900,000 people jumped on board this campaign?
After all, there is no one to receive the message up in space and the names are each sketched so tiny. Plus, the spacecraft isn’t landing anywhere.
With all these points holding true, the simplest reason could be that they’ll be able to say a piece of them is up in space, 1.8 billion miles away.
Even though no one that we know of will receive the message, and even though humans won’t be traveling to this destination themselves, having your name on the spacecraft could provide an exciting experience for the hundreds of thousands who are participating.
“Even if my name doesn’t have a concrete presence in reality, and should therefore be able to ‘travel’ across light-years and perhaps transcend dimensions, I am not sure it can ‘be’ somewhere unless there’s someone in that place to think of it,” wrote Monisha Ravisetti, an astronomy editor for Space.com, about her experience in submitting her name to the campaign.
“And there’s no one on Europa (I suppose, to the best of our knowledge) to think of it. Or to think of yours. So maybe NASA is offering us the next best thing, allowing our names to take residence somewhere besides the neighborhood of Earth, the only neighborhood in which they’ve been thought of.”
This campaign doesn’t mark the first time messages have been sent beyond Earth. In 1977, there were unique gold-plated phonograph records that were filled with sounds and images from life on Earth that were sent on NASA’s Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft.
This was “intended to communicate a story of our world to extraterrestrials,” according to NASA.
For the Message in a Bottle campaign, names can be submitted up until 11:59 p.m. on Dec. 31, 2023.