Haikus to Mars may sound like the title of a 1950s sci-fi B movie, but that’s what NASA is asking for. The space agency is inviting the public to submit haikus to be recorded on a DVD that will be carried by the unmanned Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN) spacecraft, which is scheduled to launch in November.

The submission call is part of the Going to Mars Campaign run by the mission’s principal investigator, the University of Colorado at Boulder's Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (CU/LASP). People are asked to go online at the Going to Mars website and submit a personal message in the form of a haiku.

Submitters can print a certificate of appreciation from the Going to Mars campaign, and the DVD will include every name submitted. However, only three haikus will be selected to be sent to Mars.

"The Going to Mars campaign offers people worldwide a way to make a personal connection to space, space exploration, and science in general, and share in our excitement about the MAVEN mission," said Stephanie Renfrow, lead for the MAVEN Education and Public Outreach program at CU/LASP.

The MAVEN mission

The MAVEN orbiter is the first spacecraft dedicated to exploring the upper atmosphere of Mars. Carrying an array of instruments, including a magnetometer, imaging ultraviolet spectrometer, and several for studying solar wind, its mission is to learn more about how Mars lost most of its atmosphere – especially carbon dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and water – and to understand the history of water on Mars. Scientists hope that by doing so, it may be possible to better understand the Martian climate and whether the planet was ever habitable.

The submissions deadline for the Going to Mars campaign is July 1, after which an online public vote, starting July 15, will select the top three haikus to be included on the DVD

The animation below shows a flyby of MAVEN orbiting Mars.

Source: NASA

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