NASA wants you to get your boarding pass to Mars

It's just your name, but it's the thought that counts, right?

You probably won't visit Mars for a long time, if ever. You might have a way to go in spirit, though. NASA has introduced a "Send Your Name" campaign that will put your name on the Mars 2020 rover, leaving a long-term record of your name on the Red Planet. It won't be easy to read -- JPL is using an electron beam to etch over a million names on a dime-sized chip -- but you will get a "boarding pass" to prove that your name is Mars-bound.

The option is available to virtually anyone in the world and doesn't require more sensitive info than your email address. NASA cautions that your inclusion is "subject to review," so pranksters and spammers aren't guaranteed to get their names on the rover. You have until September 30th to participate.

NASA isn't shy about the motivations here: it's drumming up hype for its extraterrestrial missions, whether it's Mars exploration or its ambitious plan to return astronauts to the Moon. Regardless, it's hard not to get a little bit excited knowing that you'll have some kind of presence on Mars, even if it's purely symbolic.