If you head over to this website you can join NASA’s New Horizons mission to Pluto and take a trip into space when it launches on January 11th, 2006. Or at least your name can. To help generate more interest in the space program with the general public NASA has been collecting names for various missions which are then etched onto small chips and attached to the probes being sent out into space. Wired News has Stardust that are about to make a return to Earth after their mission into the great beyond:
The names, etched on two silicon chips so small they can be read only with a microscope, were published for the first time only last week.
Though it was supposed to contain only real names, the list apparently wasn’t checked very carefully. It is riddled with fictional characters, the famous and infamous, hackers and crackers, and a few personal insults—“Marilyn Manson Sux,” for example.
The list is an accidental time capsule of popular culture at the time of Stardust’s launch in 1999. There are names that hogged 1998 headlines but are half-forgotten now, like the Spice Girls, Furby, Jeffrey Dahmer and Sonic the Hedgehog. But there’s no Eminem, no Osama bin Laden, no Britney Spears.
Two of the chips are returning on part of the probe thats coming home while two duplicates will continue on with the rest of the probe as it heads to wherever the hell it’s going next. The chance to be a part of a space traveling time capsule is pretty cool so when I found out that NASA is doing the same thing for the Pluto New Horizons mission I went ahead and signed up. You can too, but only through tomorrow so if you want to catch a ride to Pluto you’d better go sign up now.