Every now and then an idea captures my imagination and makes me sit back and wonder at the cleverness and creativity of some enterprises.
The latest inspirational flashing light bulb comes from NASA Americas National Aeronautics and Space Administration and I thought Id share it with you today. This idea is no doubt the closest anyone of us is ever going to get to being able to physically visit the mysterious Red Planet that has so fascinated humanity for ages past.
In their continuing strategy to enrol and fascinate people in the idea of space travel, NASA has now launched a new scheme whereby you can register to have your name rocketed to the surface of Mars.
I know our online editor, Zafar Anjum, wont like me doing this, because he discourages us from providing links away from our Web portal, but….
You can go to this Web page - and fill in your information and NASA says your name will be included with others, on a microchip on the Mars Science Laboratory rover, heading to Mars in 2011.
NASA even tracks how many people have signed up based on their home country and, when I just checked, there were 1,376 Singaporeans (or people based in Singapore, including me), 17,248 Thais, 2, 074 Indonesians, 1,081 Hong Kongers, 4,887 Filipinos and 1,793 Malaysians who have filled in their names to be sent.
US and Iran names prominent
Not surprisingly, the US has the most names submitted (338,375) followed by the UK (56,427), Brazil (42,330), India (39,832), Canada (31,217), Turkey (26,257), Australia (24,965), China (6,427) and, surprise, surprise, the Islamic Republic of Iran (22,138).
Perhaps a fascination with space will provide a formula for world peace.
Theres something uniquely fascinating and romantic about having your name riding around the surface of Mars on what will be the biggest-ever Mars probe, known as Curiosity which will be about the size of the average earth-bound motor vehicle.
NASAs publicists are indeed very clever in generating public participation and interest in outer space.
They have even set up a webcam so you can watch, live, as technicians put Curiosity together in a clearn room at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
Good morning songs
The clever PR people at NASA are also asking anyone to vote on what songs will be played as wake up calls for astronauts on the final scheduled flight of space shuttle Discovery. Discovery's STS-133 mission is targeted to launch on 1 Nov.
"We're looking forward to hearing which songs the public wants played for us," STS-133 Commander Steve Lindsey said. "It's going to be a difficult choice, because there have been so many great songs played over the years."
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