NASA: Message in a Bottle

Flying Your Name to Jupiter on NASA's Icy Moon Explorer

Over 2.5 million people around the world joined NASA’s Message in a Bottle campaign, inviting people to sign their names to a special message that will travel 1.8 billion miles on the agency’s Europa Clipper spacecraft to explore Jupiter’s icy moon Europa. The message, a poem titled “In Praise of Mystery: A Poem for Europa,” written by U.S. Poet Laureate Ada Limón, will be engraved on the robotic spacecraft. Participant names, etched on a microchip, will journey alongside the poem. The campaign seeks to enhance public involvement in NASA science and showcase the role of art in exploration—and to spark the imagination of people around the world.


U.S. Poet Laureate Ada Limón wrote an original poem dedicated to NASA’s Europa Clipper mission to Jupiter's moon Europa, which is believed to harbor a vast ocean beneath its icy surface. The video, featuring Limón's own handwritting, was animated at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Campaign OverviewCampaign Overview

It’s not every day that members of the public have the chance to send their names into deep space beyond Mars, all the way to Jupiter and its moon Europa. But with NASA’s Europa Clipper, NASA has given the public that opportunity: Names will be etched on a microchip that will be affixed to the spacecraft as it journeys 1.8 billion miles (2.6 billion kilometers) to this icy moon, where an ocean hides beneath a frozen outer shell.

Over 2.5 million people around the world joined NASA's Message in a Bottle campaign—setting a new record for the most names ever flown on a spacecraft beyond Mars.
Hannah
Hannah is an aspiring astronaut, an artist, a poet—and the one millionth Earthling to sign up for NASA's Message in a Bottle campaign. The campaign sparked the imagination of people around the world.

The chip will be attached to a metal plate engraved with the original poem “In Praise of Mystery: A Poem for Europa,” written by U.S. Poet Laureate Ada Limón to celebrate the mission. Riding on the exterior of the spacecraft, the poem and names will be like a message in a bottle as they make about 50 close to flybys of the ocean world. The mission will gather data to determine if Europa could support life.

The campaign has inspired people around the world. Between June and December 2023, NASA collected over 2.5 million names to send to the Jupiter system. By coming aboard, participants get the chance to be part of history as NASA looks to answer some of humanity’s biggest questions: How does the universe work, and are we alone?

Read the poem and view the campaign website ›


NASA Partners with U.S. Poet LaureateNASA Partners with U.S. Poet Laureate Ada Limón

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U.S. Poet Laureate Ada Limón reads her poem for the Europa Clipper mission during an event with NASA, Thursday, June 1, 2023, at the Library of Congress in Washington. Credit: NASA

The campaign is a first-of-its-kind collaboration, uniting art and science, by NASA, the U.S. Poet Laureate, and the Library of Congress. Participants aren’t just having their names flown on a spacecraft—they’re signing their names to a poem written by U.S. Poet Laureate Ada Limón. The poem connects the two water worlds — Earth, yearning to reach out and understand what makes a world habitable, and Europa, waiting with secrets yet to be explored.

The poem was revealed at a public event hosted at the Library of Congress on June 1, 2023. The event was steamed live by the Library of Congress, on NASA TV, and carried on PBS and space.com.

Learn more about the parntership ›

A Legacy of InspirationA Legacy of Inspiration

The 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.


How Names Are Etched on the Microchip

Technicians in the Microdevices Laboratory at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California use an electron beam to stencil participant's names onto a dime-size silicon microchip. Each line of text is smaller than 1/1000th the width of a human hair (75 nanometers). The public engagement team produced a behind-the-scenes tour of the lab where the microchip is produced, showing participants how it works.

See how technicians will use an electron beam to stencil names onto microchips, where each line of text is smaller than 1/1000th the width of a human hair. The microchips will be attached to a metal plate engraved with the original poem “In Praise of Mystery,” written by U.S. Poet Laureate Ada Limón to celebrate the mission. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Innovative WebsiteInnovative Website

We built a dedicated microsite for the campaign that allowed users to dive through Europa’s ice, read the poem by U.S. Poet Laureate Ada Limón, and sign up for the campaign. Upon signing up, users were presented with a social media shareable graphic customized with their name. Users could download, print, or share the graphic on their social networks, using native share trays on mobile devices.

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Users first see Europa's icy surface with Jupiter looming in the background. As users scroll, they dive into Europa's subsurface ocean.
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Users can read "In Praise of Mystery: A Poem for Europa" by U.S. Poet Ada Limón and add their name. Users can also listen to the poem being read by Limón.
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Upon signing up, users are presented with a social media shareable graphic customized with their name, shown here on mobile. Users can share the graphic using the native share tray on their mobile devices, or they can download and print the graphic.

Global ParticipationGlobal Participation

Space exploration transcends borders. Our global outreach efforts resulted in participation around the world. Coupled with our media and social outreach, we worked with partner organizations to help spread the word, including NASA’s Solar System Ambassadors and the Girl Scouts of USA.

View the campaign's global heat map ›

Participation_Map
Heat maps on the campaign website show participation across the world. Viewers can see how many participants have come from each location.

Social MediaSocial Media

Our social media campaign ignited imaginations worldwide. We leveraged NASA’s full social media reach to raise awareness of the campaign on a global scale. Participants received social shareables, customized with their names, that they can show off to friends and family. We welcomed our Sesame Street friends and Snoopy on board, along science communicators and other spacecraft. Meanwhile, a social countdown campaign started several weeks from the deadline, using shareables to tell the public how much time they have left to sign on.

Activating NASA’s Social Channels

The campaign was promoted by over 50 NASA social media accounts, linking to related NASA science and the agency's legacy of exploration. Select posts below show how the campaign was integrated across NASA missions and accounts.

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High-Flying Friends

NASA partnered with Sesame Street and Snoopy to promote the campaign with three dedicated social collaborations. Sesame Street released custom artwork featuring Elmo holding a bottle in space, and characters engaged with various NASA accounts. In addition, Sesame Street dedicated the "Letter of the Day" to be "M for moon". Snoopy content included a clip from the Apple TV "Snoopy in Space" cartoon show, where Snoopy goes to Europa. Even Lance Bass stopped by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory to promote the campaign.

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Snoopy
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Fellow Missions

NASA spacecraft including Peseverance and Curiosity signed on, along with the European Space Agency's Juice spacecraft.

Missions

Content Creators

Content creators organically promoted the campaign across their channels. One video, produced by Kobi Brown, recieved over 5 million views.

Astro_Kobi
Astro Kobi shared a video highlighting the campaign on his Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok accounts.

Twitch

The campaign was promoted as part of a live stream on the NASA Twitch account, giving viewers a behind-the-scenes look at the Europa Clipper spacecraft while it was being assembled in a cleanroom at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

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Approximately 50,000 people joined for a moderated chat on NASA Twitch, leveraging a live feed from the cleanroom where the Europa Clipper spacecraft is being assembled.

SpanishSpanish

We created a dedicated Spanish microsite for the campaign. Translating poetry is tricky, but we teamed up with Puerto Rican poet Roque Raquel Salas Rivera to bring Ada Limón's poem to life in Spanish. The campaign was promoted across NASA en español social media accounts on NASA Ciencia.

Spanish_Site

Global Media CoverageGlobal Media Coverage

This mission has made hundreds of headlines in over 10 languages worldwide. From AP News to NPR, space.com to the Smithsonian Magazine, the Literary Hub to the Washington Post, everyone has been talking about this journey to Jupiter. We even got meteorologists involved, encouraging people to gaze up at Jupiter and join our mission.

Media
Select headlines from over 100 stories covering the campaign around the world.
Meteorologists across the country encouraged viewers to look at Jupiter in the night sky and join the Message in a Bottle campaign.

The Story ContinuesThe Story Continues

The unique parternship between NASA and U.S. Poet Laureate Ada Limón will continue through the launch of Europa Clipper in October 2024, and beyond. Limón will open the SXSW 2024 conference by reading the poem, and talking about the impact of this campaign and NASA's legacy of sending inspirational messages into space with Dr. Lori Glaze, NASA’s Planetary Science Division in the agency’s Science Mission Directorate.

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