Members' Names Flying in Space
Since 1996, the full list of active Planetary Society members has flown to space aboard nineteen different spacecraft. Planetary Society members' names have traveled, or are traveling to, Earth orbit; the Moon; Venus; Mars; Saturn; asteroid Itokawa; comet Wild 2; comet Tempel 1; asteroids Ceres and Vesta; Pluto; and beyond, out of the solar system entirely.
Many of these opportunities were made possible by The Planetary Society, which sometimes designed and built the hardware used to carry the names into space. The Planetary Society works to fly its members' names at every opportunity, and, when possible, to gather additional names from the world's public for flight. Below is a list of all missions that have carried or are carrying Planetary Society member names, with links to where certificates may be downloaded for some of them.
OSIRIS-REx - MAVEN - Hayabusa 2 - IKAROS - Akatsuki - Glory - Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter - Kaguya (SELENE) - Phoenix - Dawn - New Horizons - Deep Impact - Cosmos 1 - Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Opportunity - Hayabusa (MUSES-C) - Stardust - Cassini-Huygens - Mars Pathfinder - Mars '96
Names are being prepared for launch to an asteroid. You can obtain your certificate on the Search Your Name page.
OSIRIS-REx stands for Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security -- Regolith Explorer. This NASA mission is scheduled to launch in 2016 and will explore asteroid Bennu. Names will hitch a ride to the asteroid, spend 500 days there, and return in the Sample Return Capsule to Earth in 2023. Here's the OSIRIS-REx mission website, if you want to find out more.
The Planetary Society provided names in October 2014. You can search for your name and download a certificate.
Names are on this spacecraft, which started its journey to Mars on November 18, 2014.
MAVEN stands for Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution; it's a mission designed to study Mars' upper atmosphere and its interactions with the Sun. One key scientific question will be how quickly Mars' atmosphere is currently escaping into space -- the current loss rate is an important variable that controls models of what Mars' climate was in the past. Here's the MAVEN mission website, if you want to find out more.
Names were provided September 2011 to the mission for inclusion on the spacecraft and are on their way to Mars.
Names are being prepared for launch to an asteroid. You can obtain your certificate on the Search Your Name page.
The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is scheduled to launch the asteroid explorer Hayabusa-2 in 2014. Hayabusa-2 will arrive at an asteroid in 2018 to investigate it for one and half years, before returning to Earth in 2020. Names will fly on a target marker to be left on the asteroid, and also in the sample return capsule to return to Earth.
The Planetary Society provided names in August 2013. You can search for your name and download a certificate.
Names are on this solar sail spacecraft orbiting the Sun between Earth and Venus orbits.
IKAROS (Interplanetary Kite-craft Accelerated by Radiation Of the Sun) launched with Akatsuki May 21, 2010. An experimental spacecraft, JAXA designed the IKAROS mission to further test and understand solar-sail technology for interplanetary missions. Solar sail spacecraft are propelled by solar pressure, or pressure due to radiation from the Sun, across the surface of the spacecraft. IKAROS successfully unfurled its sail, deployed two cameras, and traveled beyond Venus.
The Planetary Society provided a silica glass mini-DVD that is flying on board the IKAROS solar sail mission flown by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). The mini-DVD contains names and messages from those collected on the web as well as all Planetary Society member names as of March 2010.
Names are currently orbiting the Sun in a Venus like orbit. Akatsuki will attempt to orbit Venus in 2015.
Akatsuki is a Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) Venus orbiter that launched with IKAROS on May 21, 2010. The spacecraft failed to achieve Venus orbit in 2010. Akatsuki will attempt another orbitial insertion in 2015.
Names included members of The Planetary Society (as of January 2010) as well as message submitted by people from around Earth. The names are on aluminum plates created by JAXA.
Launch failure: Names somewhere in the Pacific Ocean.
Glory was an Earth-orbiting satellite designed to study aerosols in the atmosphere and solar irradiance, both of which are important inputs into Earth's energy balance and global climate. Participants' names, including names of Planetary Society members (as of January 2010), were recorded on a microchip that was incorporated into the spacecraft.
After a previous launch delay, the rescheduled launch on March 4, 2011 was unsuccessful resulting in the spacecraft re-entering probably in the Pacific Ocean.
Names are on this spacecraft orbiting the Moon.
LRO's mission focuses on the "selection of safe landing sites, identification of lunar resources, and the study of how the lunar radiation environment will affect humans." NASA launched LRO on June 18, 2009 and on board was a microchip containing 1.6 million names.
Names are on this spacecraft impacted the Moon.
The Planetary Society joined with The Planetary Society of Japan and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) in the "Wish Upon the Moon" campaign, sending thousands of names and messages to the Moon. Names were micro-written on a thin film of metal foil and mounted on the exterior of the spacecraft. The Planetary Society provided a list of member names on February 11, 2007.
Kaguya, a JAXA lunar orbiter, launched September 14, 2007, arrived October 3, 2007, and intentionally crashed into Moon after successful mission June 10, 2009.
Names are on the Phoenix lander on the surface of Mars.
Phoenix was the first lander to explore the Martian arctic, landing near 70 degrees north latitude.Phoenix launched August 4, 2007 and landed on the surface of Mars on May 25, 2008. The Planetary Society provided a list of member names on February 1, 2007.
The Planetary Society provided, at no cost to NASA, a silica glass mini-DVD containing "Visions of Mars," the first Martian library, and 250,000 names. The mini-DVD was affixed to the lander deck, and is visible in many of the images returned to Earth from the northern polar plains of Mars.
Names on spacecraft that orbited Vesta and is now headed for Ceres orbit in 2015.
Dawn is a NASA orbiter to asteroid Vesta and dwarf planet Ceres. Launched September 27, 2007, Dawn successfully entered orbit around Vesta on July 15, 2011 and began its journey to Ceres on September 5, 2012.
A microchip containing the names of 360,000 people who signed up on the Internet, plus all the names of Planetary Society members, are recorded on a microchip affixed to a side brace of the spacecraft.
Names are in outer solar system on their way to a Pluto flyby in 2015.
New Horizons is a NASA flyby mission to Pluto and the Kuiper belt. Launched on January 19, 2006, the spacecraft is en route to Pluto for a flyby in July 2015, and encounters with perhaps two Kuiper Belt objects between 2016 and 2020.
A compact disc containing 434,738 names is mounted on the exterior of the New Horizons spacecraft.
Launch failure: names likely in Arctic Ocean or nearby.
Cosmos 1 is a failed Planetary Society mission to test solar sail technology in Earth orbit. Launched on launched June 21, 2005, it contained Planetary Society member names based on a list provided on August 20, 2003.
A compact disc containing 76,922 names of current members of The Planetary Society and The Planetary Society of Japan was affixed to the body of the spacecraft. The disc also contained letters, stories, and texts relating to the rich history of solar sailing in science and science fiction. At present, it is not possible to download a participant certificate from the Internet.
Names slammed into Comet Tempel 1.
Deep Impact was a NASA mission to fly by and impact comet Tempel 1. The spacecraft launched January 12, 2005 and impact with the comet occured on July 4, 2005.
A disc containing 650,000 names was mounted on the impactor portion of the Deep Impact spacecraft. When the impactor slammed into Tempel 1 on July 4, 2005, it and all the names it carried vaporized. At present, the Deep Impact names database is not searchable, though perhaps this facility will be returned to the Deep Impact website in the future.
Names on Mars in two locations at the Spirit and Opportunity landing sites.
Two NASA Mars rovers:
Spirit: launched June 10, 2003, landed January 3, 2004
Opportunity: launched July 7, 2003, landed January 24, 2004
Planetary Society member list provided on December 6, 2004
The Planetary Society provided, at no cost to NASA, two identical silica glass DVDs containing more than four million names apiece. These were only the second time that privately contributed hardware flew on a U.S. planetary mission (the first being The Planetary Society's Mars Microphone aboard Mars Polar Lander). The DVDs, part of the Red Rover Goes to Mars project, were mounted to the Spirit and Opportunity landers. Each rover acquired several images of the individual DVDs before embarking on their historic journeys across Mars, leaving the landers and the DVDs behind.
Names on asteroid Itokawa.
Hayabusa is a JAXA orbiter with a mission to also sample return from asteroid Itokawa. The spacecraft launched on May 9, 2003, arrived at asteroid Itokawa on September 12, 2005, and released a target marker on November 10, 2005.
To prepare for its touchdown on asteroid Itokawa, Hayabusa released two shiny target markers that would serve as guides for optical navigation. Wrapped inside one of the markers was a thin film of aluminum foil etched with 877,490 names, collected by The Planetary Society and JAXA.
Names flew by Comet Wild 2 then later by Comet Wild 2. One version of the names is in interplanetary space on Stardust spacecraft, and one has returned to Earth.
Stardust is a NASA sample return mission from the coma of comet Wild 2. The spacecraft launched on February 7, 1999, and its flyby of Comet Wild 2 happened on January 2, 2004. It completed its sample return to Earth on January 15, 2006 and journeyed onward to complete a flyby of Comet Tempel on February 1, 2011.
Stardust flew within 236 kilometers of the nucleus of comet Wild 2. The spacecraft and the sample return capsule each carry two microlithographs from separate name collection efforts. The first contains 136,000 names collected in October and November of 1997, including the names of Planetary Society members and Stardust team members, and the second contains over a million names collected from May to August, 1998. Certificates are not available, but the full list of names included on each microlithograph is posted on the Stardust website. Make sure to look on "Microchip #1" for your name. (They are referred to on the Stardust site as "microchips," but the names are actually physically etched, microscopically, on a piece of metal.) The set of chips on the sample return capsule came back to Earth when the capsule did in 2006.
Names orbiting Saturn.
Cassini-Huygens is a NASA / ESA / ASI Saturn orbiter & Titan probe. The spacecraft launched on October 15, 1997 and achieved orbital insertion on July 1, 2004.
A mini-DVD containing 616,400 handwritten signatures was attached to the Cassini orbiter on August 22, 1997. We do not know if all Society member names are included on this disk, but volunteers from the Planetary Society were responsible for the enormous task of sorting, counting, and scanning all of the postcards containing handwritten signatures for inclusion on the DVD.
Names on the surface of Mars.
Pathfinder is a NASA Mars lander that successfully transported the Sojourner rover to Mars. The spacecraft launched on December 4, 1996 and landed on Mars on July 4, 1997.
A spare copy of the MAPEX (microelectronics and photonics experiment) chip that was originally developed for Mars '96 was included on Mars Pathfinder. The MAPEX chip included the names of Planetary Society members.
Launch failure: names re-entered Earth’s atmosphere.
Mars 96 is a Russian Mars orbiter that experienced a launch failure on November 16, 1996.
The Planetary Society provided a compact disc containing Visions of Mars, a collection of Mars literature, art, and personal messages from Mars visionaries, to the Mars 96 mission. Names of 100,000 Planetary Society members were included in a different component of the orbiter called MAPEX (the microelectronics and photonics experiement). MAPEX was mounted on the surface of the compact disc before it was sent to Russia. Unfortunately, Mars 96 suffered a launch failure. MAPEX later made it to Mars aboard the Mars Pathfinder lander in 1997, and Visions of Mars finally arrived aboard the Phoenix lander in 2008.
In 2016, The Planetary Society’s LightSail program will take the technology a step further.