NASA will launch more than 1,100 haiku to Mars aboard the MAVEN spacecraft later this year. The haiku are part of a contest that was sponsored by the University of Colorado and aimed at getting the public more interest in space.
Contestants were asked to “submit haiku poetry relating to NASA’s upcoming MAVEN mission to Mars,” per the university’s website.
The MAVEN mission, which launches in November, is setting out to find out why the Red Planet lost its protective atmosphere, reports Discovery News.
Scientists generally believe that Mars was once much like Earth. However, something happened to turn it from a lush, water world into a dry, cold desert.
So, to find more information, they plan to launch the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution mission, shortened to MAVEN. Once it reaches orbit around Mars, the probe will track things like how solar wind slowly eats away at the planet’s remaining atmosphere.
The information it gleans will be used to create computer models that theorize the planet’s history, hopefully leading scientists to discover when the planet was most suited for life and how long it lasted.
Among those who submitted poetry for the latest mission to Mars were British blogger Benedict Smith and American poet Vanna Bonta, notes The Huffington Post.
Along with the haiku, the MAVEN spacecraft will also be carrying names and messages, also submitted by the public, to the Red Planet. While the poetry contest is over people can still submit their names and messages to Mars online until September 10.
The MAVEN’s spacecraft arrived in Florida last week to prepare for launch. While it will launch from the Kennedy Space Center in November, the probe won’t arrive in orbit over Mars until September 2014,
Along with data taken from the MAVEN probe, scientists will also analyze data from the Mars rover Curiosity, which celebrated its one-year anniversary on the alien planet last week. The European Space Agency scientists will also use the Mars Express orbiter for collaborative studies with NASA’s latest probe.
While the poetry, names and messages on their way to Mars likely won’t be read by aliens (at least for now), authors can rest knowing a message from them is traveling through space.
[Image by NASA via Wikimedia Commons]