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Messages from Earth

Be a part of space exploration! The Planetary Society allows you to directly participate in planetary missions by sending your names, messages, images, and wishes aboard spacecraft. To date we've sent our members and supporters to the Moon, Venus, Mars, Saturn, asteroids, comets, Pluto, and out of the solar system entirely.

In some cases, we built the hardware used to carry the names into space. In others, we partnered with other groups to collect names. Below is a list of all missions that have carried or are carrying Planetary Society member names, with links to where participation certificates may be downloaded for some of them.

LightSail 2 - OSIRIS-REx - MAVEN - Hayabusa2 - 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

LightSail 2

LightSail 2 artist concept with Earth behind

The Planetary Society collected names, selfies, and other messages to fly aboard our LightSail 2 spacecraft, which launched in 2019. You can find your mission participation certificate here.

LightSail 2 is the first spacecraft in Earth orbit propelled solely by sunlight. It is a technology demonstration showing that solar sailing is a viable means of propulsion for CubeSats—small, standardized spacecraft that are part of a global effort to lower the cost of space exploration.


OSIRIS-Rex artist concept

The Planetary Society provided names for NASA's OSIRIS-REx mission in October 2014. You can find your certificate here.

OSIRIS-REx stands for Origins Spectral Interpretation Resource Identification Security -- Regolith Explorer. This NASA mission launched 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. A duplicate set of names is also on board the main spacecraft that will remain in space after dropping off the Sample Return Capsule. 


MAVEN arrives at Mars

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.


Hayabusa2 at Asteroid

You can find your certificate here.  

The Planetary Society and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) collected names for the Hayabusa2 mission to asteroid Ryugu. Participants could elect to have their name on the target markers the spacecraft dropped on Ryugu, and/or inside the sample return capsule that is returning to Earth in 2020. If you were a member of The Planetary Society prior to the names collection closing date of August 9, 2013, your name was included on both. 



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.

Preparing to mount the DVD on IKAROS


Preparing to mount the DVD on IKAROS
Engineers clean the spacecraft surface in preparation for mounting The Planetary Society's names DVD to IKAROS.


Venus Climate Orbiter Akatsuki (PLANET-C)

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.

AKATSUKI Message Plate

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)

AKATSUKI Message Plate
The message plate attached to the Venus Climate Orbiter Akatsuki (PLANET-C)



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.

Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO)

LRO at the Moon

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.

Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Names Microchip


Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Names Microchip
Engineers with the LRO microchip containing 1.6 million names, including member names of The Planetary Society. The microchip is encased in a radiation hardened container and attached to the back of the propulsion module access panel.

Kaguya (SELENE)

Kaguya (SELENE) Spacecraft

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.

Foil containing 412,627 names installed on Kaguya

JAXA. Thanks to Kevin Carr for the translation.

Foil containing 412,627 names installed on Kaguya
On June 5, 2007, JAXA installed a thin piece of metal foil onto the outside of the Kaguya spacecraft. Micro-written on the foil were the names of 412,627 people. The text in the image reads:

Top line: “Wish Upon the Moon” Campaign;
Bold text to upper right: Open application period: 12/1/2006 (Friday) – 2/28/2007 (Wednesday). Soliciting 412,627 people (234,498 from Japan, 178,129 from abroad);
Text in image to the upper left: ~Send your name and message to the moon~ Selene “Wish Upon the Moon” Campaign;
Text in lower right: Size: 280x160 mm Character size: 70 micrometers;
Text in lower left: 1 name sheet set (group of two sheets) attached to two faces of Kaguya.



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.

Visions of Mars, on Mars

NASA / JPL / U. Arizona

Visions of Mars, on Mars
This image shows the DVD provided by The Planetary Society to the Phoenix mission, which contains 250,000 names of people who signed up to send their names to Mars. It also contains "Visions of Mars," messages to future Martian explorers, science fiction stories and art inspired by the Red Planet. The DVD is mounted on the deck of the lander, which sits about one meter above the Martian surface, visible in the background.


Dawn departs Vesta

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.

Installation of the names microchip on Dawn

NASA / Jim Grossmann

Installation of the names microchip on Dawn
At the Astrotech Space Operations facility at Kennedy Space Center on May 17, 2007, technicians install a microchip onto a side brace of the Dawn spacecraft. The microchip (inset, upper left) contains the names of more than 360,000 people who signed up to send their names to the asteroid belt, as well as the names of all Planetary Society members.

New Horizons

New Horizons at Pluto, July 2015

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.

434,738 names to Pluto


434,738 names to Pluto
A technician installs a compact disc on the exterior of the New Horizons spacecraft. The disc contains the names of 434,738 people who signed up to send their names to Pluto, including all current Planetary Society members.

Cosmos 1

Cosmos-1 in flight

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.

The CD on Cosmos 1

The Planetary Society, NPO Lavochkin

The CD on Cosmos 1
Close-up of the CD with The Planetary Society logo, that was carried on board Cosmos 1.

Deep Impact

Deep Impact at a comet

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.

Mars Exploration Rovers

Mars Exploration Rover

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, 2002

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.

Opportunity's DVD on Mars

NASA / JPL-Caltech / Cornell / The Planetary Society

Opportunity's DVD on Mars
This close-up of Opportunity's Mars DVD was created by the Student Astronauts by combining three images captured through different filters on Sol 2 of its mission on Mars. Note the secret code around the edge. The Planetary Society created the DVD.
Spirit's lander

NASA / JPL-Caltech / Cornell

Spirit's lander
After rolling off its lander onto the surface of Mars, Spirit turned back to capture this 20-frame mosaic of its empty nest on sol 16 (18/19 January 2004). The Red Rover Goes to Mars DVD is visible toward the back of the right-hand lander petal.

Hayabusa (MUSES-C)

Hayabusa (MUSES-C)

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.

Hayabusa's target marker released!


Hayabusa's target marker released!
This is a photo of the target marker released by Hayabusa toward the "Muses Sea" site sampling target on Itokawa on November 10, 2005.



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.

Stardust microlithograph


Stardust microlithograph
Names were etched on two microlithographs mounted on each of the Stardust spacecraft and sample return capsule. This is a photo of the first microlithograph (black rectangle) mounted to the interior of the sample return capsule.


Cassini-Huygens at Saturn

Names crashed into Saturn, vaporizing and becoming part of Saturn on September 15, 2017.

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. After a successful mission, on September 15, 2017, the spacecraft including the DVD were intentionally crashed into Saturn and would have vaporized and become part of Saturn itself.

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. More information about the history of the DVD can be found at this NASA report.

Charley Kohlhase and Richard Spehalski with Cassini and the DVD

Charley Kohlhase and Richard Spehalski with Cassini and the DVD
In the Payload Hazardous Servicing Facility at Kennedy Space center, Charley Kohlhase (left), then Cassini's science and mission design manager, and Richard Spehalski, then program manager of the Cassini mission, display the DVD bearing 616,400 digitized signatures from people around the world, before it is attached to the Cassini spacecraft in the background. The handwritten signatures were scanned by volunteers from The Planetary Society.


Mars Pathfinder and Sojourner rover

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.

Mars 96

Mars 96 Orbiter

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.

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