NASA sending names to Mars on next mission as space race continues

NASA is giving people the once in a lifetime opportunity to have their names sent to Mars during their next exploration of the Red Planet.

The space agency has launched a campaign which allows people to submit their name which will be launched from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, in July 2026.

It comes as NASA eagerly await their Perseverance rover's arrival on the bright planet, which is set to take place in just two weeks.

The feature on the NASA website allows users to submit their name and email address to receive future updates before being given their own boarding pass, complete with departure site as well as the arrival site, Jezero Crater on Mars.

Currently, over 42,00,00 names have been submitted from countries including the United Kingdom, the United States and the Philippines.

The 2026 mission will touch down in 2028 close to the Perseverance mission which is currently making its way to Mars and will collect samples from the 2020 mission.

A statement from NASA read: "The rocket would then become the first ever to launch off another planet, transporting the sample return container into orbit around Mars."

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NASA has previously run this feature with an estimated 10,900,000 names currently onboard the Perseverance rover.

Perseverance is the 11th mission launched by NASA in a bid to explore Mars, which is around 181,1 million kilometres from Earth.

The agency revealed on Thursday that the rover which is the size of an SUV care was around 25.6 million miles away from the planet, heading towards the surface at a speed of 1.6 miles per second.

Perseverance is expected to touch down on Mars on February 18

Missions to Mars have been taking place since Mariner 4 operated a flyby in July 1965, with a further two flybys, seven orbiters and eight planet landings since the first mission.

Top scientists believe that the destination crater, Jezero, was once a lake and they hope to discover signs of ancient life which will eventually return to Earth.

The rover will then deploy a camera-equipped helicopter which will allow scientists to discover other parts of the planet.

The move comes as SpaceX boss Elon Musk hopes to rocket people to Mars in 2026, seven years before NASA are able to send astronauts.

He said: "It will be fun and a great adventure, but it will not be a luxurious thing to start."

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