NASA’s InSight space probe just successfully landed on Mars on Tuesday around 1.30 am IST, and along with InSight, 1 lakh Indians landed on the red planet too. Okay, not literally, but the names of 1,38,899 Indians put up in silicon microchips did land on Mars with the space probe.

NASA’s InSight (Interior Exploration Using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport) is sent to Mars for deeper and closer exploration of the planet. But since NASA is all about public engagement, they had openly invited people from all over the world to send their names, which were engraved into tiny silicon microchips with letters of a one-one thousandth diameter of a human hair, written using an electron beam. These microchips containing all the names were promised to travel along with InSight probe, all the way to Mars. Here’s a ticket:

In an outrageous response, as many as 2.4 million people registered to send their names, among them were 6,76,773 people from the USA, on second was China with 2,62,752 participants and India ranked third  with 1,38,899 names. All participants received cool digital boarding passes to Mars for their names being sent. The passes were delivered via emails and had all the details including a unique number for each pass, the launch site, which was “Vandenberg AFB, California, USA. Earth” and the arrival site was “Elysium Planitia, ‘Plain of Ideal Happiness’ Mars”.

A successful soft touchdown landing was executed on the surface of the Red Planet after slamming the harsh Martian atmosphere at a fierce speed of 12,300 mph and slowing down to five mph within 6 minutes, 30 seconds – and the InSight probe landed on Mars, along will millions of names. And, to make it more joyous for India, one of the important peoples who will be looking into InSight’s post-landing operations is Ravi Prakash, an Indian system engineer at the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab.

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