Chinese names abundant on NASA Mars probe

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Around 200,000 people from China now have a small piece of themselves on Mars.

Students at Clinton Prairie Elementary School in Frankfort, Indiana, display their "boarding passes" for Mars. Their names are among the 2.4 million that will ride aboard NASA's InSight lander, bound for the Red Planet in 2018.[]

NASA's InSight spacecraft has safely touched down on Mars after six months travel from Earth. While designed for studying the interior of the planet, InSight also carries a silicon microchip which includes the names of 2 million people from Earth on it. 200,000 of those names are from China.

The "Send Your Name to Mars" promotion was launched by NASA in 2015 as a way to generate more public interest in space exploration.

With interest in the promotion exceeding expectations, NASA opened up its website again in 2017 to allow more people the opportunity to send their name to the "red planet."

"Mars continues to excite space enthusiasts of all ages," said Bruce Banerdt, the InSight mission's principal investigator at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. "This opportunity lets them become a part of the spacecraft that will study the inside of the Red Planet."

The promotion also includes what NASA is calling "frequent flier" points, which calculates an individual's active involvement on its website as InSight does its work on Mars. Participants are able to see their "frequent flier" miles by downloading a "boarding pass" on NASA's website.

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