NASA Invites Public to Sign Poem That Will Fly Aboard Europa Clipper
Members of the public are invited to add their names to an original poem dedicated to NASA’s Europa Clipper mission before the spacecraft begins its journey to Jupiter’s moon Europa in October 2024. The poem and the names will be like a message in a bottle, traveling billions of miles as the mission investigates whether the ocean thought to lie beneath Europa’s icy crust could support life.
As part of the “Message in a Bottle” campaign, names received before 11:59 p.m. EST, December 31, 2023, will be stenciled onto a microchip, along with the poem, written by U.S. Poet Laureate Ada Limón and titled “In Praise of Mystery: A Poem for Europa.”
To sign, read the poem, and hear Limón recite the poem in an animated video, go to https://go.nasa.gov/MessageInABottle.
The site also enables participants to create and download a customizable souvenir — an illustration of your name on a message in a bottle against a rendering of Europa and Jupiter — to commemorate the experience. Participants are encouraged to share their enthusiasm on social media using the hashtag #SendYourName.
The “Message in a Bottle” campaign is similar to other NASA projects that have enabled tens of millions of people to send their names to ride along with Artemis I and several Mars spacecraft. It draws from the agency’s long tradition of shipping inspirational messages on spacecraft that have explored our solar system and beyond. In the vein of NASA’s Voyagers’ Golden Record, which sent a time capsule of sounds and images to communicate the diversity of life and culture on Earth, the program aims to spark the imagination of people around the world.
Europa Clipper currently is being assembled, on camera, at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). Set to launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida, the spacecraft will travel 2.6 billion kilometers (1.8 billion miles) to reach the Jupiter system, where it will arrive in 2030. As it orbits Jupiter and flies by Europa about 50 times, it will log another 800,000 kilometers (half-billion miles) while a suite of science instruments gathers data on the subsurface ocean, the ice crust, and the moon’s atmosphere.
In January, Limón visited JPL to see the spacecraft and learn more about the mission. She was appointed 24th Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry by Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden in 2022 and reappointed for a second, two-year term in April 2023. Limón was born in Sonoma, California, and is of Mexican ancestry. She is the author of several poetry collections, including “The Hurting Kind” and “The Carrying,” which won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry.
The Library of Congress Poetry and Literature Center is the home of the nation’s official poet, the Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry — a position that has existed since 1937. The Library of Congress is the world’s largest library, offering access to the creative record of the United States — and extensive materials from around the world — both on-site and online. It is the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and home of the U.S. Copyright Office.