Role-playing at JPL: Send your name to Mars and build your own space mission without leaving home


As part of NASA’s Mars Exploration Program, you can now send your name on a microchip to Mars. That’s right: This is your (probably only) chance to go to Mars, even if only in name.
The Mars Science Laboratory rover, which will be exploring the red planet to determine if its environment is habitable, heads to Mars in 2011. Your name could be there, or be … not on Mars.
Less real, but with even more interactive fun for you and the kidlets: Build your own space mission on the JPL Web site.
You get to:
  • Design your Mii-like scientist/engineer
  • Equip your laboratory with data-capturing devices
  • Choose an orbiter or rover as your spacecraft
  • Outfit it with more information-gathering instruments
  • Select a destination like Mars, Saturn, its moon Titan or Earth
  • Launch your rocket — with a countdown and everything
  • Study your destination and collect data and samples to send back to Earth
And, at the end of it all, NASA always requests that you build a new mission! How’s that for positive reinforcement? (And, no, I have not played it three times already today.)
That’s me, below, in my casual-Friday look. I actually use two of those three instruments in my real-life job.
37339-RBLOG-MII-SCIENCE.jpg(Photos via JPL/NASA)