Send Your Name and a Haiku Poem to Mars on a Solar Winged MAVEN

The MAVEN missions ‘Going to Mars’ campaign invites the public to submit names and poems which will be included on a special DVD. The DVD will be adhered to the MAVEN spacecraft and launched to Mars on Nov. 18, 2013. Credit: NASA/GSFC

Do you want to go to Mars?

Well here’s your chance to get connected for a double barreled dose of Red Planet adventure courtesy of MAVEN – NASA’s next ‘Mission to Mars’ which is due to liftoff this November from the Florida Space Coast.

For a limited time only, NASA is offering the general public two cool ways to get involved and ‘Go to Mars’ aboard a DVD flying on the solar winged MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution) orbiter.

You can send your name and a short poetic message to Mars via the ‘Going to Mars’ campaign being managed by the University of Colorado at Boulder’s Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (CU/LASP).

“Anybody on planet Earth is welcome to participate!” says NASA.

“The Going to Mars campaign offers people worldwide a way to make a personal connection to space, space exploration, and science in general, and share in our excitement about the MAVEN mission,” said Stephanie Renfrow, lead for the MAVEN Education and Public Outreach program at CU/LASP.

Signing up to send your name is easy. Simply click on the MAVEN mission website – here.

The MAVEN missions ‘Going to Mars’ campaign invites submissions from the public; artwork, messages, and names will be included on a special DVD. The DVD will be adhered to the MAVEN spacecraft and launched into orbit around Mars. (Courtesy Lockheed Martin)
The MAVEN missions ‘Going to Mars’ campaign invites submissions from the public; artwork, messages, and names will be included on a special DVD. The DVD will be adhered to the MAVEN spacecraft and launched into orbit around Mars. (Courtesy Lockheed Martin)

Everyone who submits their name will be included on a DVD that will be attached to the winged orbiter. And you can print out a beautiful certificate of participation emblazoned with your name!

Over 1 million folks signed up to send their names to Mars with NASA’s Curiosity rover. So they are all riding along as Curiosity continues making ground breaking science discoveries and already found habitats that could support potential Martian microbes.

Writing the haiku poem will require thought, inspiration and creativity and involves a public contest – because only 3 poems will be selected and sent to Mars. The public will vote for the three winning entries.

Haiku’s are three line poems. The rules state that “the first and last lines must have exactly five syllables each and the middle line must have exactly seven syllables. All messages must be original and not plagiarized in any way.”

The complete contest rules are found at the mission website – here:

This is a simple way for kids and adults alike to participate in humanity’s exploration of the Red Planet. And it’s also a great STEM activity for educators and school kids of all ages before this year’s school season comes to a close.


“This new campaign is a great opportunity to reach the next generation of explorers and excite them about science, technology, engineering and math,” said Bruce Jakosky, MAVEN principal investigator from CU/LASP. “I look forward to sharing our science with the worldwide community as MAVEN begins to piece together what happened to the Red Planet’s atmosphere.”

MAVEN is slated to blast off atop an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral Florida on Nov. 18, 2013. It will join NASA’s armada of four robotic spacecraft when it arrives at Mars during 2014.

MAVEN is the first spacecraft devoted to exploring and understanding the Martian upper atmosphere. The spacecraft will investigate how the loss of Mars’ atmosphere to space determined the history of water on the surface.

But don’t dawdle- the deadline for submissions is July 1.

So, sign up to ‘Go to Mars’ – and do it NOW!

Juice up your inner poet and post your ‘Haiku’ here – if you dare

Ken Kremer

Sputtering: How Mars May Have Lost Its Atmosphere

Artist depiction of the MAVEN spacecraft. Credit: NASA

Why is Mars cold and dry? While some recent studies hint that early Mars may have never been wet or warm, many scientists think that long ago, Mars once had a denser atmosphere that supported liquid water on the surface. If so, Mars might have had environmental conditions to support microbial life. However, for some reason, most of the Martian atmosphere was lost to space long ago and the thin wispy atmosphere no longer allows water to be stable at the surface. Scientists aren’t sure how or why this happened, but one way a planet can lose its atmosphere is through a process called ‘sputtering.’ In this process, atoms are knocked away from the atmosphere due to impacts from energetic particles.

Since Mars doesn’t have a strong intrinsic magnetic field, the atmosphere could have been eroded by interactions with the solar wind, and this video shows how that occurs. Also, the conditions in the early solar-system conditions enhanced the sputtering loss, and so the loss of Martian atmosphere could be caused by a complex set of mechanisms working simultaneously.

An upcoming mission could tell us what happened to Mars’ atmosphere. The Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution spacecraft or MAVEN is equipped with eight different sensors designed to sort out what happened to the planet’s atmosphere.

MAVEN will be the first spacecraft ever to make direct measurements of the Martian atmosphere, and is the first mission to Mars specifically designed to help scientists understand the past – also the ongoing — escape of CO2 and other gases into space. MAVEN will orbit Mars for at least one Earth-year, about a half of a Martian year. MAVEN will provide information on how and how fast atmospheric gases are being lost to space today, and infer from those detailed studies what happened in the past.

Studying how the Martian atmosphere was lost to space can reveal clues about the impact that change had on the Martian climate, geologic, and geochemical conditions over time, all of which are important in understanding whether Mars had an environment able to support life.

The MAVEN will carry eight science instruments that will take measurements of the upper Martian atmosphere during one Earth year, equivalent to about half of a Martian year.

MAVEN is scheduled to launch in 2013, with a launch window from Nov. 18 to Dec 7, 2013. Mars Orbit Insertion will be in mid-September2014.