There was a lot of excitement around the news, so much so that it started trending on Google. But here’s the deal breaker...

No over a lakh Indians are NOT going to Mars Heres the real dealImage courtesy: NASA/JPL-Caltech
news Science Thursday, November 09, 2017 - 13:10

On Thursday, a number of Indian newspapers carried reports about how over 1 lakh Indians are going to Mars and had even got their boarding passes. This was supposedly part of NASA’s InSight (Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport) mission which is slated for launch on May 5, 2018.

There was a lot of excitement around the news, so much so that it started trending on Google. But here’s the deal breaker – no one is going to Mars. At least, not in 2018.  

People signing up and getting “boarding passes” is all part of the InSight mission, yes. But only the people’s names are going to the red planet. And while it means that their names will (hopefully) be immortalised there, no one’s stepping their foot there just yet.

Reports also said that the US has the most number of names on the list (6,76,773), China comes second with 2,62,752 names, followed by India with 1,38,899 people signing up to have their names sent with the InSight lander.  

It all started in 2015 when NASA invited the public to send their names to be sent along with the InSight explorer.

Lakhs of people signed up to have their names engraved on a silicon microchip which would be on board the robotic spacecraft that is set to explore Mars. After 8,27,000 people signed up in 2015, NASA opened up the opportunity once again last month and accepted names till November 1.

And now, about 2.4 million people will have their names embedded on these microchips, to be sent to Mars along with the InSight lander in 2018. Many people shared photos of their boarding passes on social media too. 

According to NASA figures, the grand total of names comes up to a whopping 24,29,807. “Space enthusiasts who signed up this last round shared their downloadable "boarding passes" on social media, complete with the total number of flight miles they've collected by participating in engagement initiatives for other Mars missions,” a NASA report said.

“InSight will be the first mission to look deep beneath the Martian surface, studying the planet's interior by listening for marsquakes. These quakes travel through geologic material at different speeds and give scientists a glimpse of the composition and structure of the planet's inside. The insights into how Mars formed will help us better understand how other rocky planets are created,” it added.

So, just in case you’re ruing over a missed chance to get up close with the red planet, fret not. You only missed a chance to have your name on another planet (although that sounds pretty cool too if you’re into it)!

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