Schools across Wales have broken up for half term with the usual conundrum faced by parents as to how to keep children entertained. One such diversion, aside the usual distractions, is to send them to Mars.

NASA's Perseverance rover has just celebrated a year of being on Mars, having landed inside the Jezero Crater on February 18 2021, in its quest to find signs of possible previous life on the planet. 

One year later, the car-sized rover will continue its search, aided by the innovative Ingenuity helicopter. The helicopter, which weighs just 4 pounds (1.8 kilograms), has made 19 excursions over the Martian terrain to date, with more planned during 2022.

The National Wales: NASA's Ingenuity Mars helicopterNASA's Ingenuity Mars helicopter

However, unknown to many, Perseverance has a plaque on the craft and upon it, contained within three fingernail-sized chips, the names of 10,932,295 people who took up NASA's boarding pass invitation to have their name sent to Mars. These names now sit on a planet whose average distance from Earth is 140 million miles, arriving way before any human does so.

NASA is now inviting names to go on the next mission in July 2026, and all you have to do is follow the link to add your name, and receive a boarding pass. 

https://mars.nasa.gov/participate/send-your-name/future

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