A spacecraft specialist in a clean room at Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver, where the InSight lander is being built, affixes a dime-size chip onto the lander deck in November 2015.

December 17, 2015

A spacecraft specialist in a clean room at Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver, where the InSight lander is being built, affixes a dime-size chip onto the lander deck in November 2015. This chip carries 826,923 names, submitted by the public online from all over the world over a 22-day period during August and September 2015.

Engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, put the names onto this tiny 0.8 cm-square (8 mm-square) silicon wafer microchip using an electron beam to write extremely tiny letters with lines smaller than one one-thousandth the width of a human hair. The dime-size chip is affixed to the InSight lander deck and will remain on Mars forever.

Normally used to make high-precision nanometer-scale devices, this technique was also used to write millions of names that were transported on NASA Mars rovers and Orion’s first test flight.

InSight, for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport, will launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, in May 2018 and land on Mars Nov. 2018. This is the first Mars mission dedicated to study the deep interior of Mars. Its findings will advance understanding of the early history of all rocky planets, including Earth.

The InSight Project is managed by JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, for the NASA Science Mission Directorate, Washington. InSight is part of NASA's Discovery Program, which is managed by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

Credit

NASA/JPL-Caltech/Lockheed Martin

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