More than one million people have signed up to have their names electronically engraved on the second of two microchips that will fly aboard NASA's Stardust spacecraft. Stardust is scheduled for launch on a round-trip journey to a comet next February.
The one-millionth signature was received Wednesday, August 6, at 5:49 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time. The first microchip, which contained 136,000 names collected last fall, has already been installed on the spacecraft, which is being assembled at Lockheed Martin Astronautics, Denver, CO. The "Send Your Name to a Comet" effort is being coordinated by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the National Space Society.
Names may be submitted only electronically, either on the Stardust web site at http://stardust.jpl.nasa.gov or the National Space Society website at http://www.nss.org/impact . Deadline is August 15, 1998. Those submitting their names are granting permission for the Stardust project and its partners to use the names submitted in possible future exhibits and/or publications.
Stardust will fly within about 160 kilometers (100 miles) of the nucleus of the comet Wild 2 (pronounced vilt-2). It will capture a sample of comet dust for return to Earth in 2006, and collect nearly 100 high-resolution pictures of the comet's surface. The mission, managed by JPL for NASA's Office of Space Science, is a collaborative partnership between the University of Washington, Lockheed Martin Astronautics and JPL/Caltech. Stardust was selected under NASA's Discovery program of low-cost solar system projects. The California Institute of Technology manages JPL for NASA.
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