MANILA - NASA's latest Mars rover Perseverance is set to launch Thursday, with 10.9 million names of people from around the globe already on board.
And for future missions to the Red Planet, Filipinos are leading the roster of name submissions.
Of more than a million people who have signed up under NASA's Send Your Name To Mars program for future missions, the Philippines ranked first with 300,216 submitted names as of this posting.
It was followed by the United States and India, with 112,749 and 100,519 signups, respectively.
In the launch of the Perseverance mission, the Philippines ranked 23rd with 69,995 submitted names. Turkey led the list with 2,528,844 signups out of nearly 11 million.
Perseverance is set to take off at 7:50 a.m. eastern time (7:50 p.m. in Manila) from Cape Canaveral, Florida Thursday.
If all goes to plan, it will reach the Red Planet on February 18, 2021, becoming the 5th rover to complete the voyage since 1997.
"The rover will collect and store a set of rock and soil samples that could be returned to Earth by future Mars sample return missions. It also will test new technologies to benefit future robotic and human exploration of Mars," NASA said in its official website. -- With Agence France-Presse