The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter is NASA’s next big mission to the Moon, and it will launch later this year. It carries an interesting suite of equipment: a camera that will have 50 cm resolution on the surface of the Moon (I’m hoping for Apollo rover shots!), a laser altimeter for mapping the lunar topology, a radiation detector to map out the radiation environment of the Moon, and more.
But there’s something else it can carry as well: your name. NASA is putting a microchip onboard LRO that will contain the names of anyone who submits them. Send them your own, or a relative, or someone you’re trying to impress.
I actually think this is a cute idea. It doesn’t hurt the mission, doesn’t add any real mass, but it can help inspire people about space travel and give them a sense of ownership. They even have a cute video about it (here’s the direct link).
Of course, it’s open to abuse as well…