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NASA wants poets to send haikus on Mars MAVEN mission

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NASA wants to send haikus to Mars, and you — yes, you! — might be just the poet for the job.

The space agency plans to launch a spacecraft to study the upper layers of the Red Planet’s atmosphere in November. But before the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution mission (known as MAVEN) blasts off, NASA is asking the public to submit their names for a DVD that will be loaded onto the Martian satellite.

If you missed your chance at getting your name engraved on microchips on the Mars rover Curiosity (along with the names of 1.2 million other people), here’s a second chance. Every name sent to MAVEN will make it onto the spacecraft, and those who submit will be able to print a "certificate of appreciation" as proof of their participation.

But NASA is upping the literary ante this time: It also want peoples to send in their haikus, those three-line poems with a 5-7-5 syllable structure. However, only three submissions will make the cut and go to Mars.

Sending such a spaceworthy message-in-a-bottle isn’t a new phenomenon: Back in 1977 NASA launched  the twin Voyager spacecraft with golden records containing a diverse playlist, including Chuck Berry’s 1958 hit "Johnny B. Goode."

NASA is already taking advantage of new tech and social media to crowd-source public participation — and ultimately, public interest — in its science missions.

Aspiring wordsmiths can submit through MAVEN’s "Going to Mars" website. The deadline is July 1 and the public can vote on their favorites starting July 15. 

Perhaps I’ll give it a shot:

Rovers far below 
Spacecraft orbiting above 
A Martian family

Hm. Perhaps it's best to stick to science writing.

Follow me on Twitter @aminawrite.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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ScienceNASANASA Mars Exploration ProgramMedia IndustryNASA Voyager Program
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