Send your name to Mars with Curiosity Rover, the Mars Science Laboratory

NASA is set to launch its Mars Science laboratory, a rover named Curiosity, in the fall of 2011 to explore the red planet. Curiosity will be a far superior Mars mission than its previous missions, Spirit and Opportunity. The objectives of the Mars Science Laboratory, Curiosity rover, are to determine whether life ever arose on Mars, to characterize climate of the planet, to characterize the geology, and to prepare for human exploration of Mars. In preparation for its launch recently an instrument studying the Martian atmosphere from orbit has begun a four-week campaign to characterize daily atmosphere changes, which is one Mars year before the arrival of the Mars Science Laboratory rover, Curiosity. A Mars year equals 687 Earth days.

The objectives of the Mars Science Laboratory Mission indicate that the Curiosity mission might be the gateway to human Mars travel. If Mars is inhabitable, colonization of Mars may be several Martian decades away!

But before a human being can reach Mars, NASA plans to send a list of names to the red planet with the Curiosity rover. If you want your name to be included in this list, complete the form on NASA website at: http://marsparticipate.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/participate/sendyourname/ and wait for the Curiosity to reach Mars. According to NASA, your information will be included with others on a microchip on the Mars Science Laboratory rover heading to Mars in 2011.

Mars Science Laboratory rover will have an onboard laboratory to study rocks and soil. A great deal on the climate and geological history can be understood by studying rocks and soil. The experiments can also determine carbon compounds as well as the past and present signs of life. Carbon-carbon bonds are the fundamental chemical building blocks of all life forms. Therefore carbon is an important element to be investigated in the exploration of life.

Photo of microscopic rock forms indicating past signs of water, taken by Opportunity

The new Mars rover will be equipped with a radioisotope power system. This power source is designed to generate electricity from the heat of plutonium's radioactive decay, giving the mission an operating lifespan of one full Mars year.

Previous Missions:

Spirit: Spirit landed on Mars on January 4, 2004. Today Spirit remains silent at her location on the west side of Home Plate. No communication has been received from the rover since Sol 2210 (March 22, 2010).

Opportunity: Landed on Mars on January 25, 2004 and continue to function.

Each Mars mission is part of a continuing chain of innovation. Each mission relies on past missions for proven technologies and contributes its own innovations to future missions.

Data from NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander suggest liquid water has interacted with the Martian surface throughout the planet's history and into modern times. Mars, often called as Red Planet, is the fourth planet from the Sun in the Solar System. The iron oxide prevalent on its surface gives it a reddish appearance, giving the nickname Red Planet. Mars is only half the size of Earth and carbon dioxide constitutes approximately 95% of Mars atmosphere. The available information thus far indicate a strong chance for the existence of life on the red planet and the Curiosity is likely to answer several questions in this regard. The objectives of the Mars Science Laboratory Mission indicate that the Curiosity mission might be the gateway to human Mars travel. If Mars is inhabitable, colonization of Mars may be several Martian decades away!