A total number of 2,429,807 people have booked a flight to Mars as they signed up to have their names etched on a microchip that will be carried on NASA's upcoming InSight (Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport) mission, which launches in May, 2018.
According to NASA, 2.4 million people will be 'travelling' to Mars.
The names of the people who have successfully registered themselves for the mission will be etched on a silicon wafer microchip using an electron beam. The letters will contain lines having size of one-thousandth the diameter of a human hair. The chip containing the names will then be attached to the top of the lander.
Those who submitted their names were provided online 'boarding passes' for the mission by NASA.
According to NASA, India ranks third in the global list with regard to the names submitted for the Mars mission with a number of around 1,38,899 people. US has grabbed the first position with 6,76,773 names followed by China with 2,62,752 names.
For space experts, it is not surprising to see US leading the number since it is a NASA mission. But what marks great significance is the fact that India is next to China.
India's ranking among the first three nations has been attributed to two factors: the excitement and interest in Mars flights triggered by India's ground-breaking Mangalyaan mission, and the overall strengthening of India-US space ties.
InSight will be the first mission to interiors of the Martian surface by listening for marsquakes. These quakes travel through geologic material at different speeds and give scientists a glimpse of the composition and structure of the planet's inside.
The insights into how Mars formed will help us better understanding the creation of rocky planets.