NASA’s initiative to collect names for a “message in a bottle” accompanying the upcoming Europa Clipper mission is set to conclude after this weekend. If you haven’t already participated and wish to do so, it’s advised to submit your name before the campaign closes. These names will be included alongside a poem dedicated to Europa, composed by US Poet Laureate Ada Limón. Limón’s handwritten poem will be engraved on a metal plate attached to the spacecraft. Europa, one of Jupiter’s largest moons, is believed to harbor a deep saltwater ocean beneath its icy surface, potentially fostering conditions suitable for microbial life.
To partake in the Message in a Bottle campaign, interested individuals can visit NASA’s website and complete a brief signup form. The deadline for submissions is tomorrow, December 31. Over 2.4 million people have already added their names. NASA plans to inscribe the names of participants on microchips using an electron beam capable of creating text lines smaller than 1/1000th the width of a human hair. These microchips will be affixed to the plate containing Ada Limón’s poem.
The Europa Clipper spacecraft is slated for launch in October 2024, with an anticipated six-year journey before reaching Jupiter’s orbit. Upon arrival, the spacecraft will conduct a series of close flybys to investigate the potential habitability of Europa, one of Jupiter’s moons. Europa is among the 95 moons estimated to orbit Jupiter and has been known to humanity for an extended period, standing as one of the longest-known moons in our solar system. The mission aims to gather valuable data and insights into Europa’s composition, surface features, and the possibility of a subsurface ocean, contributing to our understanding of the moon’s potential for hosting microbial life.