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Send Your Name To The Asteroids
Jamais Cascio, 21 Dec 05

Want to go into space? How about just your name? NASA is making it possible for people to "sign" their names to a satellite destined for the asteroid belt. The Dawn mission will launch in May of 2006, heading off to an encounter with the asteroids Ceres and Vesta.

This isn't the first time NASA has done something like this. In 1999, the agency asked for names to go on a CD to be sent to Mars on the 2001 Surveyor Lander. If you don't remember the 2001 Lander, it's because it was delayed until 2003, then scrapped in favor of the hugely successful Mars Exploration Rovers. The CD would have been destroyed by radiation soon after landing, a relief to the kids who worried that aliens would get their names (I'm serious). The names on the Dawn mission will go on a memory chip and not a disk, however, so presumably they'll last awhile.

NASA doesn't say whether they accept any responsibility for the names being used by alien invaders as a contact list.

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