With the success of India's Mangalyaan mission and its witty Twitter interaction with NASA's Curiosity Rover, Mars is the most popular planet these days. It's back in the spotlight with a celebration of the 50th anniversary of Earth's first robotic probe visit to the fourth planet from the sun.
To commemorate the landing people have been invited to send messages to Mars.
Beam Me to Marsis the first chance for the inhabitants of Earth to send personal messages and pictures to Mars. A US space funding company called "Uwingu", which is Swahili for "sky", has organised the inter-planetary interaction in hopes of raising funds for NASA's future projects as well as commemorating Earth's first robotic interaction with the red planet.
With Beam Me to Mars, earthlings can send digital radio-wave signals including their names, personal messages and pictures to Mars for fees ranging from $5 to $99. A total of 88,798 messages have been submitted so far, including that from many celebrities.
Among them is George Takei, the man who immortalised Hikaru Sulu in 'Star Trek'. Along with husband Brad Takei, he has sent a picture of him fencing.
Avid fans of science fiction and regulars at comic book conventions, comedian Seth Green and his wife actress Clare Grant have also sent their names and a picture to Mars as "official Mission Commander Participants" in the Beam Me to Mars transmission.
Bill Nye, alsi known as "The Science Guy", Chris Hadfield, former International Space Station commander, Commercial astronaut Richard Garriott, former NASA senior executive Lori Garver, Pulitzer winning author and playwright Dava Sobel and Author and screenwriter Homer Hickam of "The Rocket Boys" and "October Sky" fame, are among those who were quick to jump at the opportunity of sending personal messages and pictures to Mars.
With the help of radio transmission, almost 90000 messages will be sent to Mars on Friday just after 3 pm (EST). Each message, travelling at the speed of light, will reach Mars in 15 minutes time and once all the messages are sent, the process will be repeated twice more.
Symbolic of expressing support for space exploration, copies of each message will be delivered to Congress, NASA headquarters in Washington and the United Nations in New York.
NASA's Mariner 4, which was launched on 28 November 1964, paved way for today's Mars Rovers, ExoMars and Mangalyaan.