Miniature engravings set to be ‘out of this world’

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NASA has recently announced its intention to engrave millions of names onto a micro-chip to be sent to the Red Planet with the 2020 Mars rover.

Members of the public have been invited to submit their names, country of residence and postal codes before the end of September 2019. Unlike glass engraving, the silicon chip will be engraved using an electron beam and the text is expected to be less than 75 nanometers, which is smaller than one-thousandth of the diameter a human hair. Any extraterrestrial being will definitely need specialist equipment to read the millions of names expected to be engraved.

A NASA spokesman explained:

“This is part of a public engagement campaign to highlight missions involved with NASA’s journey from the Moon to Mars.”

Participants will also receive a souvenir boarding pass, as well as ‘frequent flyer’ points. The agency does not guarantee that all submissions will be included on the micro-chip as space is limited, but the engraved micro-chip could possibly reach Mars by February 2021.

Unusual engravings have taken some fascinating forms over the years, such as the microscopic engravings of novelist Jane Austen on several five pound notes to commemorate the 200th anniversary of her death in 2016. There was also the portraits of their Royal Highnesses, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, which were engraved onto the head of a pin in 2018 in celebration of their marriage.

This isn’t a first for NASA though, as it flew more than two million names into space last year when it launched the Insight robotic lander spacecraft.

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