How would you like to send your name, or better yet, a clever HAIKU INTO ORBIT OVER MARS? No the Ear has not been confined to a newsroom cubicle too long, this is the real deal.

The Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution Mission (MAVEN) will study the upper atmosphere of Mars, and take along a DVD of every name submitted and three chosen three-line haikus.

Why? According to an article in Science News Report (, it’s essentially a gimmick to get the public interested in NASA’s space missions, and to give people “a way to make a personal connection to space, space exploration and science in general.”

To submit, go to The contest is open to “anyone on planet earth” who is 18 or older. You have till July 1 to submit a name and/or haiku, and online voting on the haikus will take place from July 15-29 to pick the top three.

MAVEN is scheduled to launch sometime in November. The mission hopes to find out “how the loss of Mars' atmosphere to space determined the history of water on its surface,” which will hopefully give clues about how water developed on Earth’s surface.

— Elleda Wilson