NASA wants your name in its first asteroid mission, leaving in 2016

NASA wants your name in its first asteroid mission, leaving in 2016

Deadline to participate is Sept. 30 this year.

For over two years some loaded business figures and even governments have been taking about mining asteroids, space travelling and building human settlements in other planets. Now the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is inviting people to have their name on a spacecraft headed to the asteroid Bennu in 2016.

The names, etched on a "Messages to Bennu!" microchip, will travel on the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft, which will eventually spend its time orbiting the sun. Its main mission, however, is to collect at least 60 grams of material from Bennu's surface and return it to Earth in 2023 in a sample return capsule.

Anyone wishing to participate in "Messages to Bennu!" should submit their name online no later than Sept. 30 at: http://planetary.org/bennu

"You'll be part of humankind's exploration of the solar system –How cool is that?" said in a statement Bill Nye, chief executive officer of The Planetary Society, the organization collecting and processing the entries.

Participants who "follow" or "like" the mission on Facebook will receive updates on the location of their name in space from launch time until the asteroid samples return to Earth in 2023. Facebook fans also will be kept apprised of mission progress and late-breaking news through regular status updates.

Scientists have said asteroid mining is a necessity as many metals that underpin our modern economy are quickly being depleted. Without any new technological advances, metals like zinc and gold are expected to run out in 100 years, they claim.

So far there are at least two asteroid mining companies —Planetary Resources and Deep Space Industries —and the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)looking into the feasibility of the extraterrestrial endeavour.

Earlier this week, however, a study from Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics brought rain to everyone’s parade, highlighting just how problematic this space mining/travelling business could be.

Image from by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center/via Flickr